Hi and welcome to "Project Buck". The journey from an idea some 25+ years ago to the adventure finally commencing Saturday afternoon November 17th 2012. First some background.
Sometime in my late teens in the late eighties, the dream and passion for one day owning a classic British sports car evolved. I think initially it started when working for my second employer (Bruce Neill) in 1987. The space shuttle Challenger had been over-challenged and exploded and I was onto my second car, a 1980 Brown Nissan Bluebird (Australia's first four cylinder limousine!) which had superceded my first.. the canary yellow 1977 Holden Gemini. I had a long way to go in the car department.
Bruce was on the way up in business and was running a then small business (The SMF Group) with half a dozen people and also had a passion for cars. He owned a red Porsche 924 (a poor mans Porsche, which I believe was originally meant to have been born an Audi), as well as a red Volvo P1800 like this one.
He let me drive both for errands. Given I had been driving for a couple of years, in hindsight he was very trusting! Bruce went on to sell the SMF group, making over $200m - $300m. I assume he's upgraded.
The British passion came next. I remember one day in Bruce's office in Macquarie Street Hobart, we were both looking out the window when a red (notice the red theme?) MGB went past with plates that started with JC. He made a joke about the big man being back in town. I had no idea what he was talking about, but laughed anyway. More importantly, the image of the MGB combined with a current TV advertisement for RACT featuring a top down MGB, firmly embedded in my mind that one day I would own one.. the passion had begun.
As the years went by, as well as a procession of cars driven by budget and testosterone more than anything else (Mazda 323 SS, Sigma GSR, Mazda 626 etc.), my mind somehow turned to the Triumph Stag. My brother in law (Mark Collidge) always seemed to have a succession of quirky cars in his life.. somehow related to his dad being an assessor for RACT. One of those was a Triumph Dolomite, which really struck a chord with me for some reason. The timber dash, the noise, the revvy engine (or maybe that was just how Mark drove!). The relevance and link to the Stag will be revealed soon.
TRIUMPH DOLOMITE SPRINT
The Stag was produced between 1970 & 1978. In the late 80's to early 90's this car was actually not that old, but had already become infamous/notorious and was still well out of my price range. The dream was on hold..
Life moved on.. I moved to Melbourne in 1999 with my then fiance (Delia Keag), broke up within 6 months, which meant I had to buy a car. Based on driving a mid 70's BMW 2500 at Delia's sisters wedding, I set out to buy something similar, but ended up with a 78 BMW318. Didn't quite get that right did I.
At some stage in about 2001 the MGB desire must have come back again. I remember signing up to a bulletin board (yes thats what they called them back then) relating to MGBs and my email inbox filling up with MGB related posts.. but I stopped that at some stage shortly thereafter.. still not the right time, or as the future would tell, the right car.
Cars came and went, I met my amazing wife Manda and eventually our beautiful triplets Jenson, Asher & Trace came along. A white Magna called Nigel, a blue Honda S2000 called Louey and finally the family car.. a 2010 Toyota Kluger Grande. Running parallel to these cars were some motorcycles. A Yamaha Virago to learn on, a Honda CBR250RR, a Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R which I rebuilt and a Ducati 748, before things started going downhill.. My final "bike" was a Piaggio 500cc scooter... then a pushbike.. what was next.. rollerblades?
Family life had taken priority number one and Manda was off work for about 2.5 years raising the brood. Money wasn't tight as such, but had to be closely managed as we sold our house on a busy main road in Port Melbourne and bought the potential family house in a much quieter area of Port Melbourne (mid year 2012). It needs work and will be extensively extended down track to support the needs of a family of 5, a cat and a dog.
Manda had been looking to return to work for a while but had been struggling finding the right fit. Money was really starting to tighten as we now had 3 and a bit days childcare for all three kids, yet no second income coming in yet. Finally in early November she found a great job and commenced work.. the Rainbirds were saved. The future house was let to a lovely female couple, we had a great roomy rental around the corner, the kids had childcare most days with a plan for Grandma and myself to care for the kids when they weren't in childcare.. life was looking good!.
I'm not sure of the exact day, but sometime in early November 2012 I was driving to work in the city in Nigel, when a Stag went past with that beautiful V8 burble under mild accelleration... it was red. All those previous thoughts on the subject matter came flooding back.. finally I thought.. ITS TIME! I mean I don't drive much anyway, I cycle to work most days and wouldn't drive a second car much. Nigel had served his purpose and I could sell him and buy a Stag. Just one problem.. Manda (who had to sell her convertible Honda S2000 because it cost too much) had to be convinced.
I somehow wish I had written this blog first so Manda could see that this wasn't just a spur of the moment decision. However, I hadn't so I needed to approach this carefully. Work was intense and my capacity to formulate cunning plans.. low.
That night I still had no plan other than a bottle or two of red. A couple of glasses in I brought up the concept and surprisingly Manda's response was "will it make you happy". I didn't realise I was sad, but I said yes of course.. I've been thinking about this for 25 years! I was a bit surprised actually as she had already agreed to a potential trip to SE asia to tour for a couple of weeks with our friend Nicholas Moses who is currently in the midst of a 2 year trip around the world on a motorcycle.. Of course the trade off there was a trip to Bali for Manda with our good friend Catherine O'Connor at some stage in the future. Fair trade I reckon. Anyway, after 25 years, I finally had the green light.. thanks Honey! xxx