Voices

Heritage listing for vintage cars

Heritage listing rules have saved many admired original houses from being neglected, modified or lost… but what about for cars?

I HAD THIS PREPOSTEROUS THOUGHT the other night that the heritage listed rules for houses now included classic cars. It must of been a dream (or nightmare) but it made me think of all those survivors that are on their last leg and without a sliver of hope in lasting.

Every so often when I visit my Mum’s farm I look across to her neighbours property where there’s a delectable delight of old and mainly Australian icons from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Kingswoods, Toranas, Falcons… it’s a barn find.

But this barn find is sitting outside perilously exposed to Mother Nature and has been that way since I can remember. The guy who owns the property isn’t anywhere near motivated to sell.. in fact he has only sold one in the last decade, a GTR Torana, which I can only assume he felt pity for. Parked in the middle of 100-something acres and in the company of roaming cattle the thing had turned to an exhibit on the sleepless nature of iron oxide.

One of almost ten Falcons this particular collector has brought back to life.

The purchaser who twisted the reclusive farmer’s arm was a panel beater by trade and he reckoned there was a slim chance he could make new panels and weld the chassis back together. But what he paid was spot price for the bits inside the cabin and the now-defunct body shell was probably more of a hindrance than anything.

Another enthusiast I spoke to about his sterling R/T Charger described its condition when he found it as possibly the very last straw before going to the wreckers for scrap (in fact that’s just what some of the workshops suggested). Having been mistreated and left in the rain for years the entire rear end was gone. The team who did take on the restoration job insisted a donor car be used because the rear-end was gone, but the owner decided to save the donor and spent some eye-watering money on fabricating panels and getting it back to original condition.

The rear was fabricated by hand.

Not many have that sort of time or money, of course, but getting something under cover or into another person’s hands who can do something isn’t that hard. And at the other end of the spectrum we have devoted enthusiasts trying to save the cars that some want to see rust away.

It’s a crying shame to see cars with such history and, in some cases rarity, dissolving into the dirt. It’s common too, and I don’t think there would be many enthusiasts out there who don’t know of a classic that’s fading away to the hands of a hoarder.

And it’s not just owners who don’t know what they got or may have had far more important things take over life to worry about – anyone remember all of those Chrysler Valiant Chargers that were crushed for metal by that wrecker in Seaford?

A heritage listed car?

So there’s history dotted around our hills that’s rusting away exponentially. Some of it’s not rare, some of its already had its day, but there’s no doubt another E49 behind – and not in – some shed and a Monaro clad in non-original Oxide Brown in the middle of Woop Woop.

But the cars are the owner’s property to do as they please, and fair enough, they paid for that privilege – but what do you think, should there be recourse for some of these rarer cars?


  • Adam

    A great thought. I never understood why hoarders refuse to sell, instead letting relics disappear into the paddocks they’ve been abandoned in. ‘One day I might restore it’ – when it’s obvious that will never happen.
    I have similar stories of a farm out Mansfield way – the XY Falcon 500 that was left to sit ‘for a couple of months’ – still running, minimal rust – and remained there forevermore. It lived amid a mix of old Holdens, including EH Wagon and FJ Ute, as well as a pink Ford Prefect, a Chrysler or two and assorted old Land Rovers. All now are beyond recoverable.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae

Alex Rae grew up among some of the great stages of Targa Tasmania, an event that sparked his passion for all things mechanical. Currently living across Bass Strait in Melbourne, Alex has worked for the last decade in the automotive world as both a photographer and journalist, and is now a freelancer for various publications. When not driving for work Alex can be found tinkering in the shed on of one his project Zeds or planning his next gravel rally car.