Much has been said about the AU Falcon being an ugly duckling and a market flop, but until you've lived with one, you're dismissing a beast of many virtues . Poor resale is not a reflection of the car's ability. Your loss is my gain.
Picked up for $2500, CIG42Z ('CIGZ') was a pretty sorry, neglected example, unaware of the rigorous adventures and trials it would receive from its new custodian.
Suffice to say, it has acquitted itself so well, that CIGZ has endeared himself to even my most car-loathing of friends.
During my ownership, I have put over 60,000km on the car, including a five-up trip with friends to Queensland and several round trips to Perisher during a ski season.
The Queensland trip demanded quite alot from CIGZ. We set off with a full boot, 2-phones charging at a time and tunes blaring. As night fell, switching on the lights caused the alternator to die, leaving us stranded at a truckstop eerily reminiscent of something out of Wolf Creek.
Mercifully, we were rescued the next morning by the wreckers of the nearest town. Its a testament to the ubiquity of the Falcon that they had an abundance of alternators, so we were quickly able to set off on our way.
Aside from that minor hiccup, its hard to think of a more ideal long distance tourer than this factory dedicated LPG example. The combination of the LPG motor's superior torque ( 362Nm@ 2750rpm vs 357Nm @ 3000 for the petrol), AU's 0.295 drag coefficient and the rigid, safe bodyshell made for effortless 110km/h cruising at 1850 rpm, excellent low-mid range response and supberb comfort. The double-sealed doors of the series 2 dial the serenity factor up to 11.
The effortless nature of the engine and slippery body pays dividends at the fuel pump. Upon arrival at our destination, just under a quarter of the 92-litre tank still remained. After a 700km trip, with five people and a packed boot. Just let that sink in.
Shown a set of bends, the neglected nature of this particular vehicle beomes apparent. Worn shocks and poorly replaced parts mean it is prone to pitching and bobbing. Low speed ride is terse and sharp, with a total absense of rebound compression . Bear in mind these are not normal characteristics of a maintained example.
Despite those bugbears, the AU's magnificent steering means it remains a safe and reassuring drive.
Its hydraulic system has a linear and positive feel, right off centre, that remains consistent from lock to lock. Even wrenching it into the tightest of corners, it doesn't load up like most cars, giving you a sense its eager to change direction.
I've driven many modern cars, including subsequent BA, FG Falcons, and the AU's is one of the best in the biz. It is perhaps the highlight of this car.
But CIGZ is not without niggles.
Some of the electrics, such as the power windows are starting to diminish with age, as are some of the instrument lights. The boot is unlined, and lacks a spare wheel, to accommodate the LPG tank.
The engine's prodigious torque makes for a ferocious locomotive when overtaking, but at speeds above 130km/h, CIGZ becomes floaty and ill-mannered. The LPG model was not equipped with ABS, a fact that left me pale faced during an emergency traffic build-up on the F3.
An unfortunate trade-off of the AU's steeply raked windscreen, is that in cold climates, it tends to fog up easily and become greasy.
If you're going to purchase one of these, they're a great investment, but bear in mind the LPG model requires more regular maintenance than its petrol counterpart. For example, the spark plugs need changing more regularly.
I have been surprised and delighted by the depth and practicality of this car, and will make sure it stays in my family for years to come.