My happy place: 1978 Ford Falcon XC

By Bronwyn Sell

Charlotte Rust, stylist and vintage queen, won't let rust eat into her sleek old Ford.

Charlotte Rust finds driving her '78 Falcon a meditative experience. Photo / Michael Craig
Charlotte Rust finds driving her '78 Falcon a meditative experience. Photo / Michael Craig

My happy place is in my car - it's a 1978 Ford Falcon XC sedan. She's bright green, tropicana, with a camel vinyl roof. She's a base model but I love her all the same.

When my partner, Tony, and I first bought her the brown carpet would moult like new wool and I remember thinking how pleasingly retro the interior was with its browns, caramels and blacks.

Of course, she has a bench seat - I had to have a bench seat as we had an XY station wagon when I was a kid and it had one. It's helpful when you can't get in the driver's door as you can slide right across with no impediment. We did buy her some new rims - 12 slots - which take inordinately large tyres but toughen her up a great deal.

She's affectionately known as Greenie or Green Manalishi. I drive her daily and for the most part it is smooth sailing. I love cruising the motorways but I don't have power steering so some manoeuvring can be challenging.

I enjoy driving so much I often wonder if it could have been a good career path. I often think about the challenges the Bathurst drivers in the 70s must have had driving the Monaros, Falcons and Chargers. There's a romance to driving an old car; it is intangible. They have physical demands that modern cars don't, which allow you to really feel like you're driving. You need to be more attentive, more present.

I tend to enjoy driving by myself; I find it meditative, as I tend to get a little distracted with people chatting around me. It also smells like a car should - oily and a little fumy, like the road - and she certainly sounds good.

Greenie is the only car we kept out of a harem of classic Australian cars. We had a Valiant VH Pacer, a VH Charger, and XC ute among others. I don't think I could ever let her go. It was a wrench to sell the Valiants.

They require a huge amount of upkeep, every warrant is a worry and she never fails to need something done to her. I don't see as many on the road now so I feel it is my duty to keep her going, keep her driving.

She needs a bit of a facelift but that will be done in time. I don't mind a few battle scars. Auckland is a tough city in which to keep a car in pristine condition.

Eventually, I would like to add an XB Coupe to the family, but they are getting insanely expensive. I can still dream ...

Charlotte Rust has styled the actors in the Silo production of Noel Coward's classic rom-com Private Lives, on until September 29 at Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 23 Sep 2014 03:13:01 Processing Time: 498ms