I wanted to find a new hobby that, you know, incorporated a car.”
Ron Doyle principal dealer Troy Altmann’s voice is hoarse from Sunday’s Eden Cup where he spruiked the almost finished Baxter .05, a customised 1972 Ford XA station wagon that’s carrying himself and three others on a 4202 kilometre trip for the children’s charity Variety Bash which starts this Sunday.
And what a car it is.
Its Ghost Busters meets National Lampoon at the Sapphire Coast.
Ready for more than 3000 kilometres of dirt road travel, Baxter’s body has been raised, reconditioned and fitted with all the mod cons a group of car-mad men need for a dirt road adventure to the top end.
Today (Thursday) or tomorrow, Troy says it will become the first non-police car in New South Wales to bear the blue and white check stripe and the police logo.
Known around the dealership workshop as “Troy’s Toy”, Baxter is a Bash veteran.
In 2008 it was driven by four boys living with disabilities who wanted to give back to the charity that supported them as children. A documentary called Baxter’s Bash, was made as a result and it aired on Channel 10 last Sunday.
“We’ve actually managed to track them down and invited the four of them over here to have a reunion when we get back,” Troy said.
It’s just one of the plans he has for the car, another is to take it with local police to schools to talk about the race, and yet another is to lend the car out to other charity groups for their own fundraising.
But first, he has to do the Bash.
Travelling with him are policeman Marc Royle (also a former mechanic) and Pete Gillett and civilian Scott Whatman.
“Ninety-five per cent of The Bash is dirt-road driving,” Troy said.
Everything from the wheel cylinders, to the coil distributor is new and there’s a big box of spare parts already packed.
On the roof is around 40 litres of water, and 80 litres of fuel to help get them through an 800 kilometre stretch with no fuel stops.
“We’ve basically got another car in parts to fix it on the side of the road,” Troy said.
The interior bears only a structural resemblance to the 40-year-old original.
“It’s been highly modified, it’s been carpeted, it’s got 2011 model Falcon Xr6 seats, an all-terrain trip computer so we can find our way there better. It’s not a race but….”
The Bash was established by Dick Smith in 1985 and has become known for “blatant cheating and bribery” from officials and participants, all fundraising for Variety.
Troy expects to be hit hard for Baxter’s excellent presentation.
“There’s no doubt we’ll be fined and I’m taking about $5000 to bribe officials on the way,” he grins.
So far the Baxter team has raised about $11,000 and have a boot load of merchandise to sell along the way.
As they journey from Balmain to Bamaga and back again, they will also promote the Sapphire Coast.
Its bonnet has a map of the Sapphire Coast, its rear panels a film strip of scenic photographs and the duco is plastered with logos from local sponsors and the dealership’s (partners) Nissan, Mazda, and Isuzu Ute.
“We’re really pushing the fact we’re from the Sapphire Coast, ‘Here we are we’re on the map’ sort of thing,” Troy said.
The team will leave Eden on Saturday and will be on the road for almost a month.
The Race leaves Balmain on Sunday with nine overnight stops at Narrabri, Goondiwindi, Roma, Emerald, Charters Towers, Cairns, Archer River and Bamaga.
It will take them about a week of solid driving to get home.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve never driven in a car past the Gold Coast. It’s going to be a fantastic time away and raising money for a good cause as well,” Troy said.
If you would like to sponsor a spot on the car or pick up some merchandise, drop into Ron Doyle Motors on the Princes Highway before the end of the week.
Donate online at www.2012nswbalmaintobamaga and search for ‘Car .05 Bash Page‘ and see Facebook for daily updates.