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Fantastic modern-day exploits across Australia in a Standard 8

Webmasters warning - don't try this at home! - again!

From Lang Kidby in Australia...................



I sent you an email a couple of months back about buying a Standard 8 sight unseen in South Australia. "Rupert" is now home after an eventful trip.


I saw the advertisement for a 1954 Standard 8 and having a connection with my childhood (see previous exploits) decided to buy it after talking to the owner and figuring out 2,000km was not too far to go to buy something sight unseen.


Bev and I hopped on a cheap flight from Brisbane to Adelaide then I had to suffer the indignity of sitting on a bus for 3 hours (my first bus ride in 20 years - I hate them!) to the small town of Port Pirie. The elderly owner met us at the bus station and dropped us to our motel and arranged to pick us up in the morning.


Our first inspection of the car, subsequently christened "Rupert" a few days later  by a naming committee of women, was quite pleasing and apart from a growling gearbox input bearing it ran fine. The gearbox was a replacement and the original which jumped out of second gear was nicely wrapped up in the back of the car. We launched onto the road immediately to follow the Murray River to Corowa about 1,000km east to attend the annual military vehicle week. Not having my usual Dodge Weapon Carrier or GMC 6X6 truck was a bit of a let down but I presumed some army, somewhere, may have been so destitute that they had Standard 8's or a soldier had owned one or at least a soldier had seen one driving past.


Ten minutes out of town and the noise from the rear end became horrendous. Suspecting a collapsed wheel bearing we slunk back to the ex-owners house and made the joyful discovery it was only dragging brake shoes which had set up a chattering resonance. Brakes adjusted, and we were off again. It soon became clear that the speed capability of the Standard 8 was going to make this a very long trip indeed! Eventually becoming used to the mesmorising rumble of road noise of a car completely devoid of any sound insulation, we managed to do 500km the first day. Two enforced breaks were taken when the treads parted company with 50 year old "as new" tyre cases and Rupert was given 4 new shoes of the radial variety whose modern design reduced the road noise by not one decibel.


Reaching Corowa after a 600km drive the next day we were surprised by the people leaving their green machines to look at this "cute" car. Women and kids were particularly taken with its appearance. I think the blokes, hanging out of their army vehicles may have thought a man bringing such a vehicle to a military show may be slightly suspect!


After a fun few days we headed off towards Canberra to visit an old friend and set off the next day towards Brisbane.


Just outside Canberra Rupert started to run on 3 cylinders. Checking everything all I could think of was a failing plug or lead as shorting the plugs made no difference to number 3 cylinder. Pressing on to Goulburn, the next town about 100km distant, the fabulous neck-snapping power to which we had become accustomed was severely reduced. I seem to recall a couple of larger tree leaves on the road requiring change-down to negotiate.


Anyhow, the upshot was a failed piston. The head of the piston had separated and the skirt had cracked in two halves. Standard catered for this eventuality in their design by putting a ring on the bottom of the piston which cunningly held the headless skirts together flying up and down for 100km.


The next week is best forgotten trying to get parts delivered from suppliers who refused to courier stuff and relied on good old Australia Post. Anyhow Bev and I flew home to Brisbane and I returned to Goulburn a few weeks later to the garage who had repaired and kindly stored the car for me. A full set of new pistons, rings and bearings, valves done and tuned properly produced amazing results. I could feel absolutely no difference in power from the original worn out engine!


Once again a long trip 1,200km straight through to Brisbane saw Rupert and I arrive in the early hours of the morning. And do you know, I am quite starting to enjoy driving a Standard 8.





Brisbane, Australia

The Kidby's splendid looking "sliding window" early Standard 8, thinly disguised as a transcontinental tourer!

By the time you have read this story twice, you will have to believe it is true! Lang and his wife Bev are Australian adventurers and explorers. You can see from the extraordinary story above how he came to catch this particular bug

I hope that the Eight continues to give you pleasure Lang!

Phil Homer

July 2010