This Ipswich grand-dad is Holden on to his old girl
IPSWICH grand-dad John Budden's relationship with his beloved Holden goes back well and truly before the days when they started making cars that you'd trade in after a hundred thousand kilometres.
When he purchased his 1961 EK Holden in 1964, she had about 26,000 miles on the clock and was as spick and span as a brand new vehicle could be.
The reliable old girl became Mr Budden's go-everywhere vehicle; it took him to work for his first day on the job for Telecom/Telstra in Brisbane; it got him to the church for his wedding to wife of almost 50 years, Ann; it brought his two sons home from hospital and also drove both of them to their weddings.
What started out as a financial decision to keep the EK running - instead of trading it in for a new car - became a sentimental decision as Mr Budden realised how much the old girl meant not just to him, but his entire family.
Over the past 52 years, Mr Budden's Holden has been around the odometer three times, going through four engines in the process.
She even survived the 2011 floods, despite completely disappearing under the flooded Brisbane River while parked at Goodna train station.
On December 21 last year, Mr Budden parked the old girl at the train station for his very last trip to work for Telstra - a company he'd worked for since March, 1968.
The same car took him to and from work every day over those 47 years.
"We just couldn't get rid of it - it's like an old friend," he said.
"It doesn't have power steering so it is a bit like driving a truck. There is no air-conditioning and it's a manual column shift - which a lot of people would never have driven in their life."
Still, the lack of modern gadgets has not deterred the love Mr Budden's children and grand-children feel towards the vehicle.
Son Shane said the Holden represented many happy childhood memories for him, taking them on holidays and to endless sporting commitments.
"All the favourite holidays from the halcyon days of my youth began by getting into dad's car - from weekend trips to the Gold Coast, to long sojourns to Coffs Harbour, Hervey Bay and Rockhampton.
"No destination seemed beyond the range of the mighty blue racer.
"Dad's car seemed as permanent as the mountains."
Then the floods came.
When the water receded at Goodna train station, the Holden was still there, but she had taken on a heap of muddy water.
The insurance company had written the old girl off - but not the Budden family.
They brought the car back off the insurer and set about restoring her to her former glory.
The interior and electrics had to be completely rebuilt and some rust had to be cut out, but the engine survived and the EK came back looking as good as ever.
Now that he is retired, Mr Budden said he would have to commit to taking the EK on regular trips to keep her going strong.
He and wife Ann are also planning a trip to Cape York later in the year to make the most of their freedom.
Mrs Budden said her young grandson Daniel was already asking about inheriting the car from his grand-dad.
"We can't get rid of it - it is one of the family," she said.