After our recent opinion spruiking the return of the Australia road trip, we started thinking about what is an appropriate vehicle to cover long distances Down Under.
Following an exhaustive and comprehensive two minute discussion, the view was formed that an Australian built car was the way to go.
Homegrown heroes like the Commodore and Falcon were designed to catapult families and their gear around so they were a logical choice, however, it was a choice that presented unforeseen challenges.
Finding a large locally built sedan should be easy, there’s plenty of them for sale so, logically, finding one shouldn’t require a significant investment in time. Naively, we thought there would be an abundance of Commodores and Falcons available given the former popularity of the badges.
That assumption couldn’t be any further from the truth. For a buyer looking for a reasonably priced, well cared for example, the choices are limited.
Australian made Commodores and Falcons have now reached the point where they are often romanticised by owners and enthusiasts. As a consequence of this royal assent, a large number of owners of clean models from the glory years are holding onto their piece of Aussie auto history instead of selling them on when it is time for an upgrade. Fair enough.
The financial impact of the pandemic has also seen many people choose to hold onto their current car for longer than they had planned to. No doubt a good idea given the uncertainty of the current economic climate.
Those wanting to sell are asking a premium which we are unable to justify. We understand the limited supply and market forces at play, nevertheless, it’s important to shop value and not be suckered into the romance of yesteryear.
Moving aside the cars we deemed to be overpriced leaves slim pickings. We have seen plenty of cars on the market, many of which are rooted and not worth two bob.
Now we expected to see high-mile examples given some of these cars are nearly two decades old, so a high odometer doesn’t act as a deterrent.
Unfortunately, every car we inquired about has gaps in its service record, some of those gaps stretched five years. Some owners were honest about maintenance that has been wilfully neglected given they could no longer see the point of spending the cash. It made us ponder how many owners ignore service intervals when they see their term of ownership coming to an end?
There is no sensible case to be made for purchasing a car with enough unknowns that just getting it roadworthy could prove too expensive to legitimise.
Skipped servicing aside, the way a car is presented for sale can say many things about its history. The overwhelming majority of Aussie sedans we checked were all shot to shit. Dints, rust, faded paint and destroyed interiors were commonplace.
We are reasonable and are willing to ignore the odd blemish, but examples that tick more than one of the above issues were immediately scratched. After all, we want to drive the car across the country, not just to the service bay.
Our research shows solid, sensibly priced Aussie sedans are hard to come by. There is some gold out there, but it often sells very quickly.
Owners who are holding onto their large, six-cylinder sedans are right to do so. Upgrading to something similar is a very expensive move. The excellent Kia Stinger is the only rear-wheel drive sixer outside of the premium Euro marques, and it commands a $50,000 (plus on-roads) price tag.
For those of us wanting to get in on the action, the hunt continues. Victoria’s closed borders have given us more time to consider our road trip car, though the romance of an Aussie mile-muncher still attracts us to the genre.