Well, 33 years ago at 21 years old I decided I wanted a 4x4 ute. I started looking around, but back then just about everyone in the rural areas was driving a Cruiser, so after a couple of conversations with the car yard fella I drove out with my new HJ 75 Series ute.
I honestly felt pretty good driving home until I hit my first hill and cars just started going around me. I thought, "Wow, what have I done?"
But over time I learned how to drive it properly and also learned that you don’t buy a Cruiser for fuel economy. They’re designed for work, and the old utes with the 2H engine can handle lots of work.
By using the gears correctly I could get 700km to a tank, which I thought was pretty good. I also loved the second tank.
My first big test was when I headed from Victoria up to the Northern Territory for a new job. I found out that once I was up to top gear she cruised along pretty steady at 100km/h - which is all I really wanted anyway - but I then realised that stock, out-of-the-showroom tyres weren’t really suitable for off road work. So half way up I had them changed over, and I also I had the suspension tweaked up a bit while I was there.
I then discovered that with all my gear the aluminium tray was just too light, so as soon as I could I changed it over to a steel tray.
And apart from the addition of a winch, she stayed like that until about four years ago when I decided to add a few extras for camping, like an awning and the like.
33 years later I still own that original ute I bought in 1988 and over the years we’ve been all round Australia together, including numerous trips to the Victorian high country. We’ve towed horse floats and tandem trailers all over Australia and only now I’ve decided she deserves a bit of a rebuild.
But she definitely owes me nothing and I reckon she will be mine for as long as I can hold the steering wheel.
Absolutely love my old cruiser Ute.