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What a minter!

Mick Bolognese's picture

You’ve never seen a car maintained quite as lovingly as this Kingswood

If you’ve ever shopped around for an old car – particularly a collectable one – you’ve probably come across one ‘owned by an elderly lady who drove it to the shops once a month.’ It always makes me think of Danny DeVito’s character in the film version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda: an unashamedly (and hilariously) dishonest car salesman who, armed with a drill, winds the odometer backwards on every vehicle in his yard.

Every now and then, though, you come across a car that’s genuinely been given the royal treatment by its owner. I thought I’d seen some good ones before (particularly working in a place like the National Motor Museum), but the 1980 Holden HZ Kingswood SL currently on display in the museum definitely takes the cake.

The car was bought by Pandil Christou and his wife Yana in 1980. Pandil, who also went by Peter, arrived in Australia with Yana from Macedonia in March 1951. He was already working nightshift at Holden in Woodville by April. He rode his bike to work at first, and it would be 29 years before he bought his first brand new car – this same Kingswood, a car which he probably had a hand in building. He owned it for 16 years until he passed away in 1996, and, a bit uneasy about something happening to the car he’d worked so hard for, he  drove it unbelievably less than 1000 kms (998, to be precise) in that period!  The rest of the time it was safely locked up in the garage and covered in blankets. It really does look just like it did when Pandil drove it out of the showroom 34 years ago.

There aren’t many cars that age you could say that about, and far fewer that are unrestored. When you do hear of one, it’s much more likely to be an exotic supercar that wasn’t really ever meant to have hundreds of thousands of kilometres on the clock – like this 1937 Bugatti 57S Atalante. I think the fact that someone devoted this much care to a car as common as a Kingswood makes it even more special. If you have similar stories of great finds like this one please share them in the comment section. Immanuel, who is in charge of our workshop, was telling me yesterday that he once passed up the opportunity to buy the original VW Beetle used in Herbie for $1000… oops.

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