AE 417 – Interview: Hipster Coffee, Craft Beers, & the Holden-Ford Rivalry in Australia with James Buchan
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English! Today’s an interview episode. I have some company today, because… you might be able to hear him in the background. I am currently living in Canberra and we managed to find a place to live with some friends for the first month or so, because they were going overseas. They needed someone to take care of their dogs. So, we’re in their house at the moment, but man, their dogs… They’re beautiful animals, but Jack, one of them, is really neurotic. He needs a lot of attention. He does not like to be on his own. So, any time I try and go and do anything on my own, such as record the introduction to a podcast, Jack comes with me, and he’s currently sitting on the couch, pressed up against me, resting. So, hopefully he doesn’t make too much noise, I guess, we’ll see, but yeah this is the first podcast I’ve done with a small dog next to me.
So, anyway, guys! Welcome to The Aussie English podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone learning Australian English. It also obviously helps with English in general, but Australian English is the main focus here.
Today, I have a really good episode for you, guys. I sit down again with my mate James, James Buchan. He has been on the podcast at least two other times chatting about cars, which is probably… yeah, it would be his biggest hobby. He’s a massive rev head. Loves his cars. And today we talk about a few different things before we get onto cars, including coffee culture in Australia and how that has changed over recent years, I guess, maybe the last decade or two that we’ve at least experienced it as people in our 30s. We chat a little bit about beer and craft beers as well and these microbreweries that are popping up all over the place. There’s loads of different microbrewery beers that you can buy now that are sort of made in small batches in very sort of localised places that you won’t find everywhere in Australia, let alone overseas. So, we talk about that. And then, we get on to the rivalry between Ford and Holden. So, this is one of the biggest rivalries that doesn’t involve, I guess, a ball sport in Australia, and this one, unlike AFL and rugby, this one tends to be nation-wide. So, everyone in Australia in all locations tends to have a preference for either Ford or Holden, ok? So, we’ll get into that, guys, and talk a bit about the racing of V8s that is common in Australia and a bit of a pastime that lots of Australians like, and… yeah! We just shoot the shit, guys. We have a chat, pretty informal, sit back, guys, it’s about half an hour, and I hope you enjoy it.
So, anyway without any further ado, let’s get into it, guys! James, take it away!
Alright. Welcome back to the Aussie English Podcast, Jimmy.
Thanks, Pete! Good to be back.
Got a beer here for each of us. Open those puppies up.
Love a beer. Thank you.
So, you wanted the IPA.
I’ll have the IPA.
I’ll have the Summer Ale. Cheers!
Alright. So, I got you back today to chat about selling cars in Australia, and I guess we can chat about a few other things as well. ‘Cause you’ve been…You love driving around, don’t you?
Yeah, yeah. I’ve done a fair bit of it the other day. So… it’s good fun.
Maybe we can start with that. So, you live down in Geelong. I’m about to live down in Geelong. So, we live down in Geelong. We grew up here. Down this side of the coast, which I guess is the south west side of the… of Port Phillip Bay, what are the interesting tourist attractions down here, the sites that you can go to that are within, you know, a day’s drive or are a day’s trip?
Not so much locally within the center of Geelong itself, but out from Geelong you’ve got….you’ve got the You Yangs or I guess if you head down the coast, you’ve got Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Queenscliff. You take the ferry over, you can get over to Sorento.
And that’s on the other side of the bay.
That’s on the other side of the bay. Or you can go down The Great Ocean Road. You can go down as far as Apollo Bay or keep on going see the Twelve Apostles if you wanted.
How would you describe the towns down here? Barwon Heads, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale, Torquay. What do you like about them?
They’re funny because in winter they’re pretty quiet. They’re just little seaside towns and you just got the people who live there year-round. But as soon as it gets to summertime it just… the tourists, they come from everywhere.
It freaking explodes.
It freaking explodes, yeah.
And it’s really busy. It seems like there’s a lot of rental houses and the population doubles. But it’s good, though. A lot of people around.
We grew up here. I think Dad used to tell me he was like, “We used to holiday down here”, when it was probably the 60s maybe the 70s that they were coming down to Ocean Grove and it was a swamp.
Which is what I can look over my parents’ house currently and there’s a wetlands down there, and I think that the wetlands is probably a few acres of fenced off lake and surrounding bush that’s probably all that’s left of the swamp.
And if it wasn’t there, there’d be houses.
Exactly, well that’s it. And at the time when dad was coming down he was saying there were only a handful of houses on the terrace, the main strip, of Ocean Grove here.
That seems hard to believe.
And nowadays, it’s probably what, 20-30,000 full time inhabitants?
And then in summer it probably goes to maybe now upwards of 70,000.
Yeah, that would not be a joke.
It’d double or triple.
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And even on the way down you’re seeing all of these new housing estates being built. That’s the same when you head down to say Torquay, you’re seeing like Warralilly and all of these different subdivisions and estates being built. I guess, my issue with them is they don’t have a heap of trees and a lot of greenness. And I like that. So, yeah and that’s one of the good things about getting out of Geelong and, I guess, going for a walk or drive is that you get to see some of that.
So, what would you suggest people do? If they come to this seaside towns. What’s a nice day out? If you come to Ocean Grove or Barwon Heads.
What I would do is probably park the car somewhere. I’d find…
It’s free parking, by the way. Free parking, guys. We are out of the city.
So, I’d pick a good day, make sure the weather’s alright, and then I’d find a good park somewhere and either go for a walk or get fish and chips, grab an ice cream. If the weather’s good enough you could go for a swim or if you’ve got like sort of like a boogie board, I don’t know what another term for those are, but like, you know.
These are those thin foam or rubber boards that are kind of rectangular in shape, but the tip would taper in, right?
Almost pointy, but not really.
And you can ride waves on your belly.
Yeah. It’s like surfing, but not quite as…
It’s a little easier.
It’s a little easier.
You don’t have to worry about standing up.
Exactly. Yeah, no that’s a good… They’re generally pretty good things to do. It’s just a pretty cruisy kind of atmosphere you just sort of wander around, chill out, get food, relax.
I know, that’s it. And the coffee culture is really coming down here now and the last 5 or 10 years from Melbourne.
It has. Yeah. It’s sort of slowly started to seep down from Melbourne, hasn’t it? It’s almost impossible now to get a bad coffee within Melbourne, Geelong, Barwon Heads, Ocean Grove, Queenscliff.
Yeah, you almost have to go out of your way and hunt down the worst coffee.
You do. That sounds like something I should try at some point.
Where can we get the worst coffee in Ocean Grove or down the coast here? Yeah, that’s it. It’s really funny how that’s become such a cultural thing of café culture all over Australia, not just in Melbourne CBD, but out in the surf coast here. I’m sure it’s bleeding or seeping into the average as well.
Have Australians become coffee snobs?
The standards have just been raised.
The standards have been raised. Well, that’s it. I was in Europe a couple of years ago, driving through Austria, and we stopped at this little roadside, you know, restaurant kind of little thing, and they had the waitresses and the waiters, and they were dressed in the typical kind of German-Austrian kind of outfits, and they brought us these cups of coffee, and they were just awful. And my hopes were really quite high and the expectation was… and I thought, has Australian coffee ruined me? I think it has.
I think is one of those things, though, where…there must’ve been, you know, one café or a small group of cafés that popped up all of a sudden, that just that combination of whatever it is that makes a good coffee nailed. They got it right. And then all of a sudden, people went there and were like, “I can do this!”.
This is really good.
“It’s awesome and I can do this!”. And they’ve just slowly just migrated out and it’s just spread everywhere. And it’s happening before our eyes. I’m sure you could still go into some pretty rural areas in Outback Australia.
And still get a decent coffee.
Or a bad one.
As well as maybe a good one, but I think you’d still be able to find average ones, where there’s just not the consumer culture. But the funny thing is the tourist attractions probably a really good coffee now too.
Like Uluru, in the middle of the… smack bang in the middle of Australia probably has good coffee.
They built an airport there. It makes sense that they have good coffee there too.
I know, that’s just amazing. It’s so funny that Australia has become such a coffee cultured nation. It’s really bizarre, isn’t it? When you think about out of all the world…
You don’t associate Australia with being, you know, amazing with coffee.
I guess another thing to talk about is the beer.
Yeah, I mean, that’s something that…
That’s only come up recently too, hasn’t it?
Only really come up recently.
All of these… what do you call them? Microbreweries.
Microbreweries, craft beers. I mean, if I want to sort of put them down a bit, you’d call them “hipster beers”. But there just seemed to be several years ago not much choice. You had VB, Carlton Draught. If you were in Queensland it might have been XXXX. And then all of a sudden, people started to, much like the coffee, think, “Hang on a tick!”, you know, “We can make our own!”, or… and again it’s just exploded. There’s just so much more choice. It’s not just beers it’s ciders as well.
I think it’s the hipster culture too that just bled into the entire nation with regards to these kind of small products that are home-grown home-made, you know, it was literally one man and his dog who found this thing and it turned it into something that could be consumed, that people almost never stray away from the really mainstream.
Yeah that’s it!
The big products no one wants the common stuff that everyone has.
It’s seen as untrendy.
They all want to be hipsters who bring the beer that no one’s heard of.
Or have the coffee that no one’s ever tasted. It’s so true!
I’ve went to a friend’s house recently and we were sort of joking about the beer a little bit, and it’s really weird. His brother loves VB, loves it.
They are a dying breed, aren’t they?
They are a dying breed.
People who stand by VB.
And I went to his house, and I said to him, “Oh, so what would you do if I brought VB?” And he said, “well it would probably sit in my fridge for a long time and not actually get drunk”. He said “I would actually prefer to turn up to someone’s house empty handed and than come round bearing VB as a gift for them.”.
It is an insult!
It was an insult!
That’d be like bringing ground, free ground coffee to a coffee connoisseur’s house.
Nescafé Blend 43.
Yeah that’s it. My grandfather was like that at Christmas he drinks a beer every now and then mainly wine, but he had all those VBs and he didn’t know where they’d come from and he was like, “They’re out because I want you guys to drink and get rid of them. I’m not going to have them”.
I was like well, I guess, I’ll have it. bBut it’s… Yeah, VB and Carlton Draught and XXXX, how would you explain them? They’re the most popular beers. Probably just ’cause they’re the most banal, like just really lacking in any kind of complexity or taste. You can drink them like water.
You can, they’re not a high strength alcohol. So, you won’t really get hammered off them, unless you drink a lot. They don’t have a huge amount of flavour. They’re not really light like a Corona. So, they’re just sort of in no man’s land. They do almost nothing for me. I’d rather have a glass of water or lemonade. And I guess, why a lot of people don’t like them as well is they’re owned by, you know, these big corporations like Carlton Draught, and I think that’s owned by like SAB Miller or something. So, a big multinational (company).
It is so funny that just that culture, I guess, too of Australia are just going towards the small guys, you know, wanting to support locals. I mean, I don’t know where this is… What’s this? John Boston beer, Australia’s first brewer 1796. Holy Moly.
But there’s some other beer that I’ve seen recently, and we went out to a pub in Queenscliff, you, me, Quel recently, and the beers we got were were made in Queenscliff.
Yeah, that’s right.
And I think I saw them when I was like, “Oh, yeah! Hell yeah! I’ll get those.”
One, I’d never had them. Two, they were made in this small town.
Exactly. It’s a good thing to support, like, a local business. I think especially in Geelong too, because over the last say 15, 20 years Geelong’s, I guess, manufacturing or employment scene has changed a lot. We had Qantas. They serviced the jumbo jets here. We had Shell, the refinery. We had Ford. They built cars here. And that’s all just disappeared. So, for someone to sort of set up their own brewery and Queenscliff and, you know, do something that’s, you know, is sort of handcrafted, that’s pretty cool
We need to start waiting for people to start making their own cars in their garage and selling them, you know, making one a year and selling their own cars.
I’ve always thought that would be pretty cool.
So, talk a little bit about what happened with Ford? Well, in Geelong. So, Ford was one of the biggest employers…
…Of people down here in Geelong. And Ford is probably Australia’s equal most or most popular brand company, brand of car. And so, what happened recently with that?
Well. I guess there were a lot of things. You could talk about the politics. The Australian Government not really wanting to put funding into Ford and Holden. So, you have local car manufacturers.
So, they saw that they were sinking? At least locally.
Yeah and I think from a really, really, really long-term perspective, we had a huge amount of car manufacturers or cars that were locally made in Australia. We had Mercedes.
Oh, really? They were made here?
We had Mercedes made here. We had Leylands, like Rovers and all of that kind of stuff.
Where they British?
They were British. We had Nissan, used to make the skyline here.
We had… we had all sorts of stuff that was made here. You know? You had the Mitsubishi Sigma, which then turned into the Magna. That was made here as well. You had all of these Chrysler products. And I guess, the writing was on the wall for a really, really long time, because…
During this time too, sorry to interrupt you, was probably that we had a larger part of our population working in factories, right? And doing labor jobs like that, because it was still affordable to purchase products that were made in Australia.
That’s right. And due to economics, due to politics… I guess… and I guess the more manufacturers that start pulling out, because they just don’t find it profitable, a lot of like the small supply chains that support these manufacturers they can’t sustain only producing for maybe one or two brands, and it just becomes unsustainable, and I guess, that’s really what sort of happened with Ford. There’s so many different little pieces to the puzzle, but effectively the writing was on the wall.
That was not sustainable. I think also with couple of the Ford engines they had emissions regulations that they needed to meet, and if they wanted to meet these new stringent emissions regulations, they would’ve had to have redesigned the engine. And I guess, for a company that only was producing for Australia the Australian market and not a worldwide market, it was really hard to justify, and perhaps when they were initially developing the certain car platforms, perhaps they should have developed it to be left hand drive as well, so it could have been exported. I know Holden did with some of their cars. Hindsight, the benefit of hindsight, should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. Anyway, that’s yeah, Ford finished up.
So, they were the last two big ones, right?
Ford with the last two factories or brands in Australia of car to be made here, manufactured here in Australia.
When did they close?
So, Holden produced their last car in October, 2017, or thereabouts.
So, that was this year, yeah?
That was this year. And Ford finished up, I think it was like a year or so before. Toyota finished also in October this year. So, I’ve got a colleague at work and her husband had just finished up at Toyota. So, I think he’s trying to switch his career to being an electrician, and have put a lot of people out of work, but then, I guess, if we switch it back to beers, you know, there’s a lot of people that have been… that did have other skills, that moved into perhaps one of their hobbies and were able to make a job out of it. So…
I guess, that’s one of the really good things about microbreweries or just that culture of, you know, people at home making something small time and getting it out there is a small-time business. It is really cool that they can do that as a living, and it is good that you don’t rely on companies like Ford or Holden that could go bust and leave you in the dark.
That’s right. And I guess, I mean, not that I… I don’t really blame some of these workers that have suddenly found themselves out of jobs, but I guess, the writing was on the wall for a long time with all of these manufacturers slowly over the years that were starting to finish up, and it slowly started to dry up. You probably could see what was going to happen. And the government was less and less interested to providing assistance for these car manufacturers. And as Australians I guess we also got a lot of choice with the cars that we have. I think we have almost more than any other country in the world in terms of new cars for sale.
Tell us about that. Did we talk about that in the last podcast? What are the different brands that are in Australia?
We might have done. We’ve got like 66 different brands. And so, I think as a country, we’ve just pretty much switched to an all importing country now, because such a small population of just didn’t really make financial sense to have car manufacturing located here.
For a population of only 22 million or so. So, yeah. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I guess. We’ve got a lot of choice.
Too, does the fact that we have such big distances between cities and tourist attractions, has that affected the kinds of cars that you find in Australia, compared to places that are smaller countries like Britain?
I would say it certainly has. I mean, that’s what the Holden Commodores and the Ford Falcons have sort of marketed as. You know, they were developed here in Australia to cover big long distances. And I know when you go into the centre of Melbourne these days, if you go to the centre of Melbourne or Sydney, you will find a lot of small little cars. But I do know that, you know, when you go into the Outback, for instance, or you go to rural regional towns, we went to this little town called Hay, which is sort of in the centre of New South Wales a year or two ago.
And there was always that joke of “Hey, it’s Hay.”.
Exactly. And it was just full of Land Cruisers.
Literally, every second car was a Land cCruiser, and you can’t really blame them.
So yeah, like… That was the thing that, I guess, I came to be aware of, maybe in my teens, once I was thinking about cars and thinking about purchasing cars, was that Holden and Ford were uniquely in Australia, and that the cars that Holden and Ford made, or least Holden and Ford that were in Australia, the cars they made were uniquely here and you didn’t see them overseas or at least when they were exporting overseas they were kind of rebadged and sold in a different manner. Why were they so unique in Australia the way that they were? Why was that cultural difference with those cars and the requirements so different from say America?
We just… we have a big country. We liked a big roomy car. We like to drive… we still do, we like to drive long distances. And we had, at the time, I guess, you were talking about, you know, the labour force as well. So, it was economical to build and design a car here. And I guess, the Commodore, at least, originally started as a German car. I think it was like an Opel.
An Opel of some sort. And they brought it to Australia. They did some testing with it and it broke in half.
How did it break in half?
Our country just broke it. The Australian Outback. The roads, they were too rough. They were… There were too many stone, sand, dirt. You got in the car, it just broke in half. So, Holden, which I think was owned by General Motors at the time, economically it was viable at that point and they decided to redesign the Commodore for Australian conditions.
Can you talk about the Commodore and the Falcon? What exactly are those two and how are they rivals? Why did they become rivals?
They became rivals, I guess…
So, and, to put that in context, the Commodore is a type of car that is made by Holden, and the Falcon is effectively the equivalent type of car made by Ford.
This is this like entrenched competitive team, right? You’re in… you’re on one or the other. There don’t tend to be many people who care about cars and like them both.
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I was one of those people once.
So was I. I always went Holden. Love Holdens.
Me too. And now, I’m completely indifferent. I can see the merits of both of them.
The funniest thing is that for me, I guess, before we get into the nitty gritty, is that they were the same… it was the same shit. Like, it looked exactly the same effectively, but just had different badges.
The features were all the same. They were literally rip offs of one another, or you know, the same, twin brothers, that were non-identical twin brother.
Yeah, right, exactly. They drove the same. They looked the same. They had roughly the same size engines. But I guess, it’s like a football team, to put it as a British reference, for Arsenal and Manchester United, you know. You’re either one or the other. You can’t support them both. And you know every year, I think it was around October, you’d get Holden and Ford supporters, they’d go up to Bathurst, which is in New South Wales, and they’d drink a huge amount of beer or wine, they’d get absolutely messed up, they’d possibly start a fight and they’d be…
And what was Bathurst, though, for the context of listeners?
It’s a car race. So, much that the Grand Final or anything like that.
Is like Australia’s Formula One, right? But it’s in these bogan mobiles.
These taxis that were never really designed for out and out racing.
Souped up taxis.
And I can talk a little bit about that in a moment, but they would go up there they would drink an enormous amount of beer and they would these cars around and around and around for about seven hours. And so, it was a real endurance race and…
It was just like Australia’s… just, yeah, I guess, it’s our version of car racing was just Bathurst, right? Like, we didn’t really focus too much on rallying or the Formula 1 stuff. It was at least for the average battler working-class Australian…
They… it was something that they could relate to, despite the fact that if we gloss over in these later years these cars they were nothing like the cars you could go into a showroom and buy. They were tubular frames. They had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and they were nothing like what you…
So, what, they just had to look like it?
They just had to look like it
So, they had the casing, the shell, of a Commodore or Falcon.
But effectively, they were nothing like it at all.
And how did the rules work? Because, that race only had those two cars, right? Just had sedan Commodores or it just had sedan Falcons, and it was just those two cars.
And I guess it worked for a long period of time.
Was that the rule, though? There were no other cars allowed?
Initially, it wasn’t. We used to have the Minis, we used to have some Jaguars, we had BMW. Ford brought out this year a Cosworth from the UK. And then this and decided to bring out their Skyline GTR. And that was already, you know, that was dominating in Japan with their touring car kind of scene over there, and they brought it to Australia. It was sort of developed, I guess, in Adelaide, and I think they called it… Gibson Motorsport was the company that developed it, and they gave it a weight penalty to try and make sure that it would be somewhat competitive with all the other cars.
So, what’s a weight penalty exactly?
So, what they did was they added weight to the car to make it heavier so that it would be viewed as comparable as the other cars that were racing around Bathrust at the time.
So, how has that done exactly?
They would put… I don’t know whether it was lead or quite what they would do. I don’t think it was concrete, but they would add ballast to the car, and they would put it in certain areas hoping that that would slow the car down, because it was more momentum that it had to carry around.
Just to handicap it to make it even.
But the Skyline was twin turbo. It was all wheel drive, and…
It was just… it was not an even race, it’s going to like having you know camels vs. horses and maybe putting weight on the horses to make it even in it’s like, they’re just different animals.
Exactly. And I mean, when you think about it, one of the cars… the Commodores and the Falcons, at that point, they were still sort of loosely based on a road car, you know, designed for touring around the country with a family and a big boot full of, you know, gear and…
Do you think that was the appeal, then? The fact that that people who were just everyday Australian battlers, like…
Absolutely, that was the appeal.
…working collar dudes, just blue-collar workers, would be able to go to the race track and see their car.
Racing Holden and Ford
That they thought “Yeah, that’s me! That’s me!”. And there was this mantra that was called “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”. So, what would happen, they used to sell a lot of them, if the companies, Holden or Ford, won, they would sell a lot of them.
The Skylon GTR, it came in and decimated. They added more weight to it. It still beat them. They tried to get to turn the turbochargers boost down. It still beat them. And there was one race at Bathurst where the Skylone GTR won. It was kind of controversial in terms of how it finished, and when the two winners got up onto the podium they were booed.
You can’t have a Japanese car winning an Australian race, mate.
Especially, over a Commodore or Falcon, like…
And the driver of the Skyline GTR, Jim Richards, he said… he was in New Zealander, I think. And he said to the audience on the podium “yYou’re all a pack of arseholes”, and after that, they couldn’t handle their beloved Commodores and Falcons had been beaten. So, instead of, you know, adding more weight to the Skyline, they just decided to ban them.
So, instead of making it competitive, just outlaw it. So, not all…
This is probably the easiest way.
So, no all-wheel drive, no turbos. It’s like alcohol prohibition or anything else, if you don’t want something, just make it illegal.
It just fixes it.
And so then they had only the Falcons or the Commodores. And, for me, like, that kind of ruined the racing, because you’ve got to see all of these different cars, and they all had different… their strengths and weaknesses. And by effectively having it as a two-horse race, you know, the two sides of the same shit, it lost a lot of the appeal for me, but for a lot of people, it didn’t. But then I guess, you could see the writing on the wall, because when Holden and Ford… the writing was on the wall for them that they were shutting up, finishing up production. The category V8 Supercars had to change, so they called it supercars. I tried to invite more brands. So, Nissan. They had Mercedes as well, at one point, and Mercedes is in it now.
Because of what, the AMGs or something?
That’s right. It didn’t really align with their brand strategy, because the consumer of a Mercedes Benz, an AMG, does not really align with someone who watches V8 supercars. They’re a completely different…
Someone who buys those really nice European cars doesn’t tend to go to Bathurst and sink VB whilst screaming at the Holdens and the Fords.
No, they’re in a slightly different income bracket. So, Mercedes, they partook for a while, but they’re out of it now. And as of the end of 2017, there will be no more V8s. So, they had to really readjust their sort of their marketing or their brand strategy. And I think we’re starting to see a swing back to what it was with all of these different types of engines. So, effectively, at least in my opinion, at least, the blanket ban on, you know, turbo charged, all-wheel drive, or different types of cars, just because their favorite cars were being beaten was the wrong thing to do and it was a knee jerk reaction and we sort of slowly seeing a swing back to, you know, a bit more of an open diverse field.
So, have you been to Bathurst before to watch it?
I’ve never been. No, it… Look… It’s something, I guess, if I was on holidays at the time, and I was in the area, yeah, I might go past, and maybe it might be on the cards for me in my future at some point. But, yeah.
Anyway, so that’s Australian car racing and in a nutshell.
So, do you think the fact that Holden and Ford have gone offshore, at least in their manufacturing and you just said, what, V8s are about to be no longer made, are they?
Not, not for this category for V8 Supercars.
Ah, ok. So, it’s not that the factories are stopped making them, it’s just that they’re just killing it for this this race.
So, they’re… effectively they’ve killed it for this race, and Holden and Ford will be importers only of the cars. So, if you want to buy a V8 from Holden or Ford, with Ford you’ll be able to buy V8 Mustang, you can buy them. There are already a few of them being sold here.
Yeah, I saw lots of them, I was wondering where they were coming from.
They are popular car. There’s a lot of them. And Holden is bringing in the Camaro from America.
It’s so funny that they just constantly match one another with the different styles. They try and get the equivalent on either side.
I think Holden didn’t really expect that the Mustang would really sell and it sold like hotcakes, and I guess, they were just sitting there sort of watching being taken completely by surprise. And they were sort of sitting on their hands doing nothing and they realised that they needed to have a competitor and they needed to get a piece of that action. So…
Do you think that’s a wise decision buying five to seven litre V8 in today’s day and age, especially with petrol prices in Australia?
Not if you’re going to use it every day. If that’s really your thing then, by all means, go ahead and buy it. I’m guessing if you can afford it brand new, you can probably afford the fuel. But it’s… look, it’s certainly not for me. And the trend is to slowly… to get smaller engines. They’re more efficient, and they…
Do you think that’s partly related to the increase in fuel price here in Australia over the last 5 or 10 years?
Yeah. And more globally as well, because it doesn’t make sense to make a car just for Australia even if our fuel prices are cheaper. So, if fuel prices are expensive everywhere else in the world, but the fuel price here is cheaper, it still makes sense to have, like, one global product, and, I guess, you can achieve similar kind of power levels these days with turbos or hybrids. So, it kind of makes sense to have, you know, a smaller engine that makes just as much power, and that’s sort of what we’re seeing here. So, yeah, it’s an interesting landscape.
So, can you talk, too, a bit about, I guess, how these two types of cars… what… how do they differ and what characterises them? How are they different from other brands? Can you describe Commodore and the Falcon?
Yeah, so they’re big and they’re comfortable. They don’t really handle all that well although they have made improvements over the last few years before their decline. So, big and comfortable. Good for covering long distance. The Ford had a… they had a straight six engine. The Commodores they had V6s. And then of course you had the V8 options from Ford and Holden. Holden had a couple of… They were using LS engines. So, the Chevrolet kind of crate engines. And then Ford, they were using a they used an engine called the Miami, which is a five litre supercharged V8, on their last Falcons before they sort of shut up shop. They were a pretty good engine. We had a friend that worked for Ford for a while doing some of the development for them. So, he was a test driver and, you know, he would bring out the cars and we would get to have a ride in them, and I guess, basically the goal was to just put kilometres on them.
Not thrash them… or both.
Or both, I guess just to see what…
As long as it was legal.
As long as it was legal. Just to see what would happen. If anything broke, if any issues cropped up, so that by the time these cars were put into production that they would have, I guess, sort out all all of these little bugs. So, yeah, I remember we went for a drive to Anarchy and, you know, we would just go drive around in these cars. Sometimes it was a little small Ford Focus or it could have been a Falcon, but primarily the Falcons were just really great for covering long distances. They were really comfortable. The interiors were quite nice on them towards the end with the leather interior. The engines had a lot of power. But they were a big car.
That’s the trade off, right? The turning circle.
The turning circle, the fuel economy.
They gonna be a bitch to reverse park.
Yeah and, you know, you might not want that. I guess, if you’re a single person or you’re a young couple, especially, if you’re in the city of Melbourne or Sydney. That’s not really… that’s not really all that great anymore, because I guess, you know, the cities have changed as well. Parking spaces in Melbourne, as well. That’s… There’s not so many spaces to park. These cars big. So, it makes sense to get something smaller, but if you’re out in the country, then I guess, if you were driving between Melbourne and Sydney, then that that’d be a great car.
Yeah, they’re tops.
We did that a couple of years ago. We went to Sydney to buy a car for a friend, and we took up my parents Commodore. We just put the cruise control on 110. That was a really easy drive. We switched drivers a couple of times just to make the trip a little bit easier, but you just put the cruise control on and the music, and the car was good for that. That’s what I maintain they were designed for.
And they can take insane amounts of kilometres, right?
That’s right. Provided they’re looked after, they can keep on going and going and going. We had an ex-taxi, so, an AU Falcon taxi, that we bought and that went for 750,000 kilometres.
I think it was like 800+, wasn’t it? I think your brother said, I was chatting to Dave the other day, James’s brother, and I think he was saying I was above 800.
It could well have been. It had a truly insane amount of kilometres on it.
It’s three quarters of the way to a million kilometres.
But the engine… it was still the same engine. It had just been looked after I guess the parts that needed to be replaced. So, let’s say the radiator might have failed at some point. You replace the radiator or you’d do general servicing on it, but just kept on going. And that’s the great thing about them. And I think there’s a real sort of stigma behind buying a car and seeing the numbers click up on it, thinking, “Okay, it’s got over 100,000 Ks, now. It’s time for me to get rid of it, because it’s going to break.”. I mean, if that was… you know, that might have been true 30 years ago if you had like an old British Leyland, where, I guess, manufacturing tolerances weren’t as good, but these days, you know, I guess, like, the cylinder wall clearance, the piston clearance, all of that kind of stuff, it’s a lot more tightly controlled. The engines are a lot better built.
And the good thing is, I guess, especially if you get Ford or Holden, is that they’re just cheap as chips.
They are. And they’re so easy to work on as well. And the other good thing is, because they did sell so many of them, there’s parts everywhere.
Yeah. So, it doesn’t really…
It’s the kind of thing that you could break down in the desert and the next mechanic you get to can repair it.
And that’s exactly what my brother and I did. We bought one… bought that are you fully aware that we were going out to remote New South Wales…
In the middle of butt fuck nowhere.
But if the car broke down, we were going to have parts in order to fix it, because I… we did a similar trip several years before that. My brother and I foolishly bought an Alfa Romeo. Ask me how that worked out!
It’s an Italian car?
The wrong kind of Italian car, though. James. It’s not a Ferrari.
It isn’t. You get none of the power and all of the unreliability.
So, you know, let’s say something broke on that and you’re in, I don’t know you… Good luck trying to find a radiator or, you know, some other part to keep it going, you’d be well and truly screwed.
Awesome, guys! Well I hope you enjoyed that interview episode with James. Once again, James, massive thank you for coming on the podcast. There’s quite a few interviews that I’ve done with him talking about a bunch of other things. So, I am sure that you will hear from him soon in the future. And I know that he has a pretty general accent that is easy to understand. So, hopefully you guys enjoy hearing from James.
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Anyway, guys! That’s enough for today. Jack says bye, even though he’s sort of just nodding off in the background here lying on the couch. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you as usual, guys. And I should mention, don’t forget to check out the videos on YouTube as I’ll be doing a little breakdown of the most interesting expressions for this episode on Youtube. So, keep an eye out for that. Anyway, guys, enjoy your week, chat to you soon!
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