My LE began life in October 1976 when it rolled off the production line in Holden’s Pagewood Plant in Sydney. It was snapped up by a gentleman by the name of John King, a businessman who, with his business partner, had been importing Ford Mustangs from the United States into Australia in the early 70’s.
But more on that later…
I met John in 2000, just after he turned 80. At that time he’d made the difficult decision to sell his beautiful car. He decided that his LE was just a bit too much for him as he drove his wife in it once a week down to Melbourne from Boort (a country town in North West Victoria). The car has a few ‘k’s on it (about 298,000). But at least they’re country kilometres!
John advertised his Monaro in The Age, a leading Melbourne newspaper. I’d just sold my house, so I had a few bucks lying around and happened to spy the Ad. I gave the number a ring and spoke to John. We agreed on a time to have a look at the car and my partner Lib and I drove to the leafy Melbourne suburb of Kew.
I really liked the car, but for some reason I got cold feet and decided not to buy the LE. About a week later John called me and asked if I was still interested. So we began to negotiate; he was asking $11,500 and I didn’t want to pay more than $9,000. We agreed on $10,000 cash, without a roadworthy, and the deal was done.
The day I went to pick up the car, I spoke at length to John’s son. He filled me in on the history of the car while we waited for John.
My memory is a little hazy after 7 years, but I’ll try and impart as much as I can!
John and his partner were in the business of taking orders for Ford Mustangs from Australian Customers, flying over to the United States (with wives and families in tow). They would visit the Ford production Line and pick the cars coming off the line with the colours and the options they needed. The cars were paid for, then loaded onto containers and shipped back to Australia.
Photo: 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback
The two of them then set to work changing the steering from Left to Right Hand Drive and making the cars conform to Australian design rules for registration. Quite simply, for a good few years, John and his partner made a very good living doing something they really enjoyed!
By the mid 70’s the pair had made a few dollars and in 1976, John bought his Limited Edition Monaro, brand new, for exactly $10,000 – a full $1,500 off the RRP! Not a bad effort for a car in very high demand with no shortage of takers. In fact, at $11,500 the LE was one of THE most expensive Australian cars ever produced to that time. To give you a comparison, the base model HX kingswood cost about $4,000.
In the mean time, John’s business partner had been buying, modifying and racing more exotic cars such as Jaguars and the like.
In the late 70’s, Australian Design Rules and pollution requirements for all new and imported cars began to tighten and it became increasingly difficult for John and his business partner to make a profit.
They disbanded the partnership and split the assets of the business. John kept the LE and his partner took some cash and other business assets. John and I are the only owners of the car and I’ll always be grateful to him for selling it to me.
But a bit more about the car itself…
As I mentioned earlier, it’s done just over 298,000 kms so it’s a little long in the tooth! It could do with a full restoration but it’s still really nice in its original state; plus I don’t have the cash lying around to restore it.
It still has the original paint work on the boot-lid, roof and bonnet. Below the ‘line, the doors, guards and lower rear quarter panels have been resprayed. A little rust is starting to show in the bottoms of the doors though. No big deal, it won’t take much to fix them up.
The interior also needs new carpet, and some trimming on the console, and the back of the front seats. There’s bit of sun damage on the back of the rear seats too.
The engine could do with a rebuild, although it still runs really well. John did get the engine reconditioned many years ago, no mods, everything is standard (which I really respect). I guess what I liked most about the car is that there has not been one single modification to it. There’s no CD player! There’s no extractors, cam, manifold or holly carb addon’s. It’s pretty much as original as the day it came off the line.
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