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  • Jason Roweth

The 202 - Once capacity, now what’s left… Just a badge?

A conversation yesterday reminded me of the old HQ panel van. I found one pic. My rock and roll chariot… We could do the full band - including stacks, kit and vocal PA. It was a tight riot! One band was ‘Diamantina’, so she was ‘Tina’ - after the steer’s skull wired to the grill. She was ‘Bob’, as in Dylan. Sometimes home! Mostly - just ‘The Beast’.

I was living in a shared house with my mate and drummer, Sirius Cove, Mosman by that time… The red-dust-off-white van had that steer’s skull wired to the grill, no straight panels - none of my doing - and a fair slab of gaffa holding a cracked back window together… The old brick-on-bale-twine hand-brake… She was a picture! The car was a well-respected member of the Mosman community. I went to the Doctor’s once, gave my address - the receptionist said, “You don’t have a dead animal on the front of your car, do you?” I was ready for the diamond-clad scorn. No. Just, “My son wants one for the BMW.”

It was bought from a shearer, in the old home-town, and resuscitated with Dad, and a reco - yes - 202. After a close encounter with a big old-man roo, Pop and I rebuilt the three-on-the-tree gear linkages with copper pipe spacers, and a nudge or two of tie-wire. They worked perfectly until the car died. But you REALLY had to know what you were doing. She was my peak hour / Sydney rock and roll vehicle, along with the million-bush-miles machine. A fine car indeed!

So many stories… One I’d forgotten… We once had to leave the band gear side-of-road, with an out of work muso from Mudgee, while The Beast functioned as hearse / ambulance for a poor old fella who’d died, and then crashed his own vehicle. Our new muso friend was solid, and waiting for us with our gear, when we returned - some time later.

It was homeward from a series of gigs, on one of the big, straight western drives, overtaking another vehicle that was already going too quick, that the tail shaft dropped out the back of the box, and kicked into the road. I remember riding the bucking wheel, saying to Chloë, and Cameron - as calmly as I could, “Just - hold - on… This - could get…“ It could - should - have been much worse! She just pig-rooted us with some vigour, into the table-drain. She looked after us very well until the end!

That was the last mile she ran, and the most exciting mile - amongst a million exciting miles. What a car! What a time!

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