The GT6 appealed to me initially because she looked like an E-Type Jag, just a smaller version. I knew I couldn’t hope of owning a Jag at the age of 19 but this little rocket fell right into my price range, and she had a certain mystery to her compared to the MGB I originally thought of buying.
For many years I used the GT6 as my everyday car, leaving her parked overnight in Surfers Paradise after one-too-many in the nightclubs, never really worried about her welfare. That was until I came back one morning to find she had been attacked by some jealous nobody. Her door was kicked in, aerial snapped off, bonnet jumped on and dented and brake lights smashed.
The affair unfortunately was fading, she was proving to be higher maintenance than I first thought and from that fateful night on she was never left out on a Surfers street again, and became a bit of a recluse, staying in her garage while I zipped about in various boring, unattractive, but reliable cars, that got me from A to B with the minimum fuss and never got a jealous look from anyone.
In 1997 I realised just what I had locked away collecting dust, after all, only 15,000 odd GT6 MkII’s were built and distributed around the world, experts believe only about 2000 still survive in England, and only a handful are in Australia.
I decided it was time to bring her out and give her a face lift, I was that little bit older and ready to perservere with her flighty ways. Jim had a 2.5 litre 6 cylinder Triumph engine with matching gearbox under his house, the GT6 originally had a 2 litre, I figured a little more power wouldn’t go astray.
The day I picked her up from Jim’s it was drizzling and the exhiliration I got from driving the new improved model in the rain was second to none, it was a totally different feeling, and I knew the restoration was now going to go all the way, my affair had started again.
After improving on her performance it was time for her body. The guys at MG specialists stripped her bare and repaired any minor imperfections, she had a great chassis and minimum rust. I decided on Ferrari red instead of the original darker Signal red, and had all her chrome repaired and polished, a new set of shoes in the form of Mini-lite replica wheels replaced the old pressed steel rims, and completed the exterior package.
Next step was a new interior, and I chose a doe-skin colour with tan carpet, far more classy than the original black I thought, and much cooler during our summer months. I re-skined the wooden dash board with Queensland Maple, just to give it that Aussie feel, and re-upholstered the dash mat in black marine-strength vinyl to protect it from the sun, added a timber steering wheel to match the dash and my little raver was looking pretty smick.
After about 18 months of work, and a substantial bill, she was reborn, it was an extreme makeover of the automobile kind, but thoroughly worth it.
I decided she was to be treated properly from now on, no more deserting her late at night for an easy cab home. And maybe take her out to more upmarket venues.
A few weeks later at our first public outing we won most desirable car in our class at the Macleans Bridge sports car meet and followed it up during the next couple of years with a concourse runner-up and then a concourse win at Triumph meets.
I had gone back to driving her everyday, but respectfully, quite remarkable considering she was over thirty now, but like all true, natural beauties, getting more attractive with every passing year.
It never ceased to amaze me, the looks she attracted when you parked, either from the locals at Tedder Avenue, who have plenty of eye candy on offer already, or the young kids on their push bikes around the suburbs who would yell out, ‘cool car’ as you pass by.
On a number of occasions I’ve been stopped by older English gentleman who tell me they haven’t seen a beauty like her since their teenage years, ‘I had one of them when I was younger, got rid off her when I got married and had kids.’
I reckon she’s the perfect family car, no room for children or pets, just you and your girl, roaring around, radio off, so you can appreciate the notes of the engine as you drop through the gears, flick it around a corner and settle back while the back digs in and the bonnet lifts slightly as you put the accelerator down, ahhh, I’m six years old again with my Scalextric track.
You don’t sit in her so much as wear her, and you’re so low to the ground that you don’t need to be doing the speed of light to get the buzz, but you do need a bit of practice and patience to drive her. Most people who have tried tend to stall her at first, then bunny hop for a while before saying it’s all too hard.
Several times I have found myself at the lights with a souped-up Japanese number next to me, egging me on for a quick race between the lights, I rev the engine, make all the right sounds and then take off normally, letting the boy racer streak ahead, we can’t beat him, but we didn’t try, so he doesn’t really know if he truly won. If I did try, I’m pretty sure I’d leave the dif behind in a pool of oil and be left on the side of the road looking pretty silly.
I discovered shortly after I bought her that she came out of the Coventry factory only a few days before I was born, and that only heightens for me the romance attached to owning an old sports car. My GT6 and I have shared some memorable adventures together, some funny, some sad, some rewarding and some downright frustrating.
Practicality ruled over passion several years ago and I opted for air-conditioned comfort, modern stereo sound and safety bags for my regular drive.
It’s not the end of the affair mind you, she’s tucked away in the garage now, always polished and pampered for, and taken out for a run when I feel the need for a laugh, or when I simply want to show her off her beauty in public. She might be on the wrong side of forty now but she still holds her own in the looks stakes with all those young, pumped up European and Asian models with too much plastic, not enough soul and probably a whole lot more high maintenance.