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  1. Catching Snakes to Earn a Crust with Stuart Mckenzie
  2. Scottish Accents, Favourite Movies, & More with Christian Saunders
  3. Rev Heads, Car Accidents, & Car Culture in Australia with James Buchan
  4. On Celebrating Australia Day & Changing The Date with Ian Smissen
  5. How to Buy a Car in Australia with James Buchan
  6. Moving to France & Starting a Podcast with Oliver Gee
  7. Crocodiles & Muppet Pollies with Damian Duffy
  8. Life Working as a Brickie in Australia with Rhys Linett
    1 Topic
  9. Hipster Coffee, Craft Beers, & the Holden-Ford Rivalry in Australia with James Buchan
  10. Bird & Bush Photography in Australia with Ian Smissen
  11. How to Sell a Car in Australia with James Buchan
  12. Becoming a Karate World Champion with Rhys Linnett
  13. Australian vs French Culture with Cara Leopold
  14. 6 Big English-Learning Mistakes with Christian Saunders
  15. Christmas in Australia with Raquel Soares
  16. A Brazilian Bloke Born in an Aussie Body with Hugo Groom
    1 Topic
  17. Australian Politics with Ian Smissen
    5 Topics
Lesson 3 of 17
In Progress

Rev Heads, Car Accidents, & Car Culture in Australia with James Buchan

Peter Smissen January 24, 2018

In this Interview In Depth lesson, we’re going to study a portion of the AE 393 – Rev Heads, Car Accidents, & Car Culture in Australia with James Buchan.

Read and listen to the full interview here.

How to complete this lesson:

  1. Listen & read
  2. Complete the quizzes

AE 393 – Interview: Rev Heads, Car Accidents, & Car Culture in Australia with James Buchan

Difficulty: Beginner

G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today, I have a special guest with me, one of my best friends from high school, who I’ve probably known now longer than half my entire life.

It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it, when you think about it like that.

Yeah, so James and I went to high school, all through high school together, and we’ve been friends since, after high school, we’ve hung out. It’s been like 10 or 11 years now since high school.

It has been.

And I thought I would get James on because…I guess, you would explain yourself as being a bit of a rev head, James, just to say the least, into cars, just slightly.

Yeah, that’s probably the best way of putting it. I am a bit of a petrol head, although, perhaps I was a little bit more active in, I guess, like a motoring enthusiast or petrol head scene when I was younger. These days… I appreciate a fine motor vehicle, but I don’t really get involved with many groups or go to meets any of that kind of stuff. The certain aspects of certain… of car culture especially in Australia, I‘m not a huge fan of. So, I appreciate a nice car, I can understand the engineering behind it, but I’m not what you would call one of these people that goes out.

…And is really full on.

Just partially full on.

Just a bit of a hobby more than an obsession, right.

That’s right, yeah.

Yeah, so I thought it’d be good to have James on, because you can talk about… I guess, we can go through buying and selling a car in Australia, the different kind of cars that you’ll find here, maybe what a ute is, the Holden and Ford conflict…


…and then I guess, we can just start with your story. How did you get into cars and from what age?

I guess, ever since I was born, I’ve always sort of had an obsession with cars, at least so my parents tell me. They had an old Mitsubishi Sigma wagon. So, they were… I think they called it a Chrysler Sigma originally before Mitsubishi bought the rights to it. Anyway, my parents had this blue Sigma wagon, and apparently when I was a little baby I was fascinated by the wheels and everything about it, and I guess from there, I sort of got into, I guess, anything that was sort of mechanical, so like earth moving equipment and stuff, and then ever since I guess I was sort of like a teenager, from then on it was just cars, mainly European exotics, but then I guess, my world was sort of opened up to Japanese cars and, you know, to a lesser extent, I guess, Australian cars and all of the other different, you know, nationalities of vehicles, and, you know, they’re all got interesting. There’s always something interesting behind them. So…

And is it a family thing too? Was it the family were interested in motors and vehicles, or was it just you that go into it?

So, maybe it was genetic you might say. So, on my father’s side, my dad was interested in cars. His father was a mechanic. And on my mother’s side, my grandfather, he had 39 cars throughout his lifetime.


  1. So, every year, just about, he would go buy another car, and every car was the best car he’d ever owned even if it was a complete junk box.

So, it only got better and better then, obviously?

It only got better and better, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure he took a backward step several times. But he did have a really nice Nissan Skyline at one point. So, that was a pretty cool car.

But then your father as well’s into motors, into cars?


And your brother too.

That’s right, yes. So, my brother knows about them as well, and he would sometimes educate me or vice versa. So, if there were something interesting out there, he’d, you know, point me in that direction and say take a look at this, and yeah. I remember his first… his first car, because, throughout high school I didn’t really have a job. And then, when I was old enough to drive I had to borrow mum and dad’s car, and I said to my brother, one of my biggest regrets was not getting a job sooner so that when I was able to drive I could get a car. So, I guess he took those lessons on board and his first car was a Toyota Supra. So, he paid 17 grand for this car. This was… I don’t know, like, 2007.

And to put that in context, he’d saved all this money during year 11 and year 12 at high school. So, not only was he doing high school full-time, right, but he was working after school, weekends, and somehow managed to save $17,000 for this Toyota Supra. And I guess, my first drive of that thing, coming from Camries or Commodores, V6 Commodores, and so on. I remember I had my first drive of this thing and just the power was unbelievable. From that point, I guess, I was hooked. I was on the fence as to what I thought about Japanese cars before then, but I was on… you know, after that drive I was hooked.

So, what is it like for you, when you get into there, and you… say, you get into that car and you drive it for the first time and it’s incredibly fast, what are the emotions you’re feeling and, you know, is it… for you is it the speed, or is it the sound, or is it a combination of all of it? It’s an experience.

It’s all of that thing. It’s a sensory kind of overload, ’cause you get, you know, you get the smell of the interior, it’s a Japanese car made in the mid 90s, so you’ve got this weird smell of perhaps with some of them, you know, soy sauce, Japanese cigarettes, the smell of the interior, you get in there, and then you get the sound of the engine, and then I guess the speed and the way it feels.

And I guess, to put that in context, the reason you get those smells with these cars is because they’ve been imported from Japan…

That’s right.

…to Australia.


These specific cars.

Yeah. So, yeah, I had my first drive and, I guess, I was hooked after that.

What was it like? Can you run me through, like, when you first stepped in the car and you put your foot down, what was the feeling like?

Coming from little four banger Camries or 4-cylinder Camries, and you know, V6 Commodores, this, you know, it was a nice big straight six, so it had…it had a lot of torque. It just felt like it was ready to go in every gear. There was… and it didn’t weigh a huge amount really. So, it felt good.

Was it frightening at all?

It probably would have been stupid if I had had that car from a young age, yeah, ’cause I would have got myself into a lot of trouble with it.

And why do you think that is? With younger kids too, buying these sorts of cars and then ending up in accidents, is just a common occurrence, and is it obviously just males mostly?

For the most part, I’d say it’s just males, but again, I guess, it’s like anything, you know, you’ve got some females that get into cars and like any, any young person, I guess, the brain’s not fully-developed, and, you know, when you’ve got a lot of power and you’ve got irresponsibility, I guess, or that feeling of showing off, it’s… yeah, it can be a recipe for disaster. So, I can understand why the government has imposed legislations banning turbo and V8 cars for P-platers, or previously, when I was a P-plater, they had power to weight ratio.

So, what would you say to yourself, if you could speak to yourself when you were 17 or 18 and give yourself advice on the first car that you would own? Would you say, go for the most powerful, or now with all the wisdom that you have, would you say, just take it easy?

Absolutely, take it easy. You know what? I had a Camry and thinking about it now, like, that’s still a good car now. It was manual, so enough to have a little bit of fun with, but it was practical at the same time. It was good on fuel. You couldn’t get yourself into too much trouble in it. So, if you’re just looking for a car to get from A to B, that’s still sort of alright, that was a good car. And if you really want to go crazy later on, just wait until you’re a little bit older. You know, you‘ve got all the time in the world you don’t need to… And also, the other thing is, as a P-plater you’re restricted from getting… as a young person, you’re restricted from getting something insanely powerful anyway. So, what’s the point? Just wait, and then really see, I guess, see if it’s for you. Because it‘s a slippery slope. You can spend a lot of money on cars modifying them.


ST = something

SW = somewhere

SO = someone

4-cylinder – an engine with four cylinders in it

  • I’ve got a 4-cylinder car.

A complete junk box – ST of very poor quality, i.e. the equivalent of a box full of junk

  • My motorbike is a total junk box.

A grand – 1,000, usually referring to dollars

  • I’ve saved up 5 grand!

A P-plater – a probationary driver in Australia, i.e. who has to display a red or green P-plate in their window to show they have a probationary license

  • He’s still a P-plater.

A petrol head – a person who is into engines, ‘petrol’ refers to a type of fuel engines run on

  • My father’s a bit of a petrol head.

A rev head – a person who is into engines, ‘rev’ refers to the revolutions that occur in an engine per minute, e.g. “an engine speed of 1,750 revs/minute”

  • She’s a real rev head and loves tractors.

A sensory overload – over-stimulation from the environment

  • Going to a music concert can be a sensory overload sometimes.

Be a slippery slope – Be a bad situation or habit that, after it has started, is likely to get very much worse – imagine climbing down a slippery muddy slope of a hill and tripping, it can only get worse

  • Doing drugs can be a slippery slope.

A turbo – a turbocharger – a supercharger driven by a turbine powered by the engine’s exhaust gases

  • She’s got a ute with a huge turbo in it.

A ute – a ‘utility’ car. In Australia, this is a car with two seats in the front and a tray on the back to carry cargo, e.g. tools

  • I’m a tradie and use a ute for work.

As to what… – with regards to what

  • He didn’t say anything as to what we need to do.

Ban ST – forbid ST

  • The government banned being nude in public on this beach.

Be a fan of ST – be fond of ST; like ST

  • They’re not a big fan of motorbikes.

Be a recipe for disaster – Be ST that will result in ST horrible, i.e. a disaster

  • Driving faster on a windy road in the rain is a recipe for disaster.

Be good on fuel – (for a vehicle to) be fuel efficient

  • Her diesel 4-wheel-drive is good on fuel.

Be on the fence (about ST) – be undecided (about ST) – i.e. you’re sitting on a fence and can’t decide which side to get down on

  • I’m on the fence as to which team to support in the footy match.

European exotics‘exotics’ here refers to ST that is not found locally. He’s referring to European cars being ‘exotic’ as they come from far away overseas.

  • She loves exotic cars whether they’re from Japan or Europe.

Ever since – throughout the period since

  • I’ve been a rev head ever since I was a kid.

For the most part – in most cases; usually

  • For the most part, this weekend I was out at the beach with mates.

Four banger Camries‘four banger’ refers to a 4-cylinder engine, and ‘a Camery’ is a type of Toyota car

  • My family’s car is a four banger Holden.

Frightening – scary

  • Driving fast can be frightening sometimes.

From that point – from that period of time onwards into the future

  • When I turned six, from that point on I loved cars!

From then on – from that point onwards into the future

  • After my 10th birthday, from then on, I was hooked on engines.

Full on – (for ST to be) particularly intense or extreme

  • It’s pretty full on to drive a Ferrari at 300km/hr

Fully developed – completely mature

  • Her baby isn’t fully developed yet.

Get from A to B – go from one’s starting point to one’s destination

  • What car do you use to get from A to B?

Get into ST – become interested in ST

  • How did you get into drag racing?

Get oneself into a lot of trouble – fall into a lot of difficulty

  • She got herself into a bit of trouble when her car broke down on a rainy night.

Go crazy – become very excited and do ST to excess

  • When you’re old enough and have saved enough money to buy a Holden, you can go crazy!

Have all the time in the world – have all the time that you need for ST

  • My grandfather told me I have all the time in the world to worry about girls.

Have SO on (ST)in this case it’s a reduced way of saying “have SO on my podcast/show/etc.”

  • He had me on his TV show last week.

Hooked (on ST) – addicted to ST

  • We’re totally hooked on these lollies.

Impose ST – force (an unwelcome decision or ruling) on SO

  • The government is imposing these new laws on P-platers.

Insanely powerful – ridiculously/incredibly/amazingly powerful

  • His car’s engine is insanely powerful.

Irresponsibility – lack of a proper sense of responsibility

  • Driving without wearing a seatbelt shows a lot of irresponsibility.

It’s pretty crazy – it’s pretty impressive – said to show that you think something is astonishing, amazing, impressive

  • It’s pretty crazy how fast his car is.

Modify ST – make partial or minor changes to ST

  • I’m going to modify my ute’s engine.

On my father’s side – on my father’s side of the family

  • On my father’s side, I have 10 relatives still alive.

Or vice versa – or the other way around

  • We can go to the beach then have dinner, or vice versa.

Point SO in that direction – show or lead SO to ST

  • My father pointed me in the direction of loving engines when I was a kid.

Power to weight ratio – a measurement of actual performance of any engine where the engine’s power output is divided by the weight (or mass) of the vehicle it is in to give a metric that is independent of vehicle size.

  • What’s the power to weight ratio of your ute, mate?

Practical – suitable for a particular purpose

  • It may not be a very fast car, but it’s safe and practical.

Put your foot downput your foot down on the accelerator pedal

  • Stop driving so slowly and put your foot down!

Restricted – limited in extent, number, scope, or action

  • P-platers are restricted to using 4-cylinder or V6 cars.

Run SO through ST – go over (ST) quickly as a reminder or rehearsal

  • Can you run me through the different cars you’ve owned in the past?

Show off – boastfully display one’s abilities or accomplishments

  • He drove down the street showing off his new Ford.

Soy sauce – a type of Asian sauce made from soy beans

  • Do you like eating food with soy sauce?

Take a backward step – go back to ST worse

  • When he bought that motorbike, it was much smaller and he’d taken a step backward to say the least.

Take a look at ST – examine ST by looking

  • Can I take a look under the bonnet of your car?

Take it easy – proceed in a calm and relaxed manner; don’t go overboard

  • Take it easy! Don’t drive so quickly.

Take those lessons on board – if you take something on board it’s that you fully consider or assimilate a new idea or situation

  • I learnt a lot as a kid and took many lessons on board.

The best way of putting it – the best way of stating or saying ST

  • Driving fast is dangerous, and that’s the best way to put it.

The petrol head scenea scene = a specified area of activity or interest, in this case, ‘the petrol head scene’, refers to the scene related to cars.

  • I’m not a part of the petrol head scene any more.

To a lesser extent – less strongly, or not as much

  • I’m into cars and, to a lesser extent, motorbikes.

To say the leastused as an understatement (implying the reality is more extreme, usually worse)

  • He’s a fan of race cars to say the least.

Torque – a force that tends to cause rotation

  • This tractor has a lot of torque.

V6 – an engine with 6 cylinders in it arranged in the shape of a V with 3 on either side

  • She’s always driven around in a V6 Holden.

V8 – an engine with 8 cylinders in it arranged in the shape of a V with 4 on either side

  • We’re obsessed with V8 cars and the sound their engines make.

Your father as well’s into motors…Your father, as well, is into motors… – in connected speech, auxiliary verbs like ‘is’ and ‘are’ are often contracted onto the previous word, whether or not it’s a pronoun, e.g. “well” in this case.

  • If how much money he made’s important, ask him yourself.