Behind the wheel of a blue beauty

Written by Kerrie Alexander

When you imagine a classic car and a photographer on sunset, the mind automatically takes you to the joy of a wedding.

But for Jim Nickols, the love scene was set at the Sports Precinct last month where his bright blue 1978 Torana was at the heart of a professional photo shoot.

The voucher was a special Father’s Day gift from his son Ian, knowing just how passionate his dad is about classic cars.

Jim’s 23-year-old disabled son Daniel is also a big fan of the “Ran”, and is always by his side in the classic car while cruising the Esplanade, taking part in club events with the Wide Bay Rodders
or travelling around the state to various car shows.

“He claims this one as his own,” Jim said with a laugh. The die-hard motoring enthusiast has always
had a love of classic vehicles, particularly Holden panel vans, but couldn’t go past the blue beauty after seeing her advertised on Facebook five years ago.

As well as being a practical everyday drive for the family, the metallic blue one-of-a-kind colour was the deal-clincher, being his wife’s favourite colour.

Luckily, because it was already bought by the time she finished work. “I was just looking at Facebook one day and saw it for sale; it was local, it was reasonably priced, so I went and had a look, liked it and committed to it.

“When I picked the wife up from work I said ‘I’ve got something to show you’ … she knew it would be a car.

“Blue is her favourite colour, so I got away with it.”

Five years on and Jim has put some hard yards into getting this four-door sedan, which is the last of its model, to the immaculate condition you see today.

The 78RAN number plate is a standout feature on the car, and no longer is there missing nuts and bolts, rust or zip ties holding up the exhaust.

“It was an unfinished project when I bought it, so it was just a matter of finishing it off and tidying it up.”

The wiring has been tidied up in the original 202 engine, which is one of the old-school features Jim loves most about the car.

“I’ve kept the car sympathetic to the 80s, so I haven’t gone for the 20-Inch chrome wheels or modern electronics … it’s got everything you would expect to see from the 80s.

“It’s got the drag way wheels from that era, the 202 with extractors and a Holley carb.

Another special feature is the tow bar; added so that Jim can tow his 1978 pop-up camper van that has been colour matched with Sandman stripes.

“It’s the Sandman I never had … we call it the Sandvan.”

The Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to car shows and cruises, but Jim is looking forward to getting the Ran back on the road now that restrictions have eased.

As the coordinator of many car club Facebook pages, you can follow what’s coming up around the Fraser Coast on the Wide Bay Rodders page and Jim’s Cars that Cruise the Nard page.

The Wide Bay Rodders have also launched a Hang Out Night on the second Friday of every month from 5.30pm at Stockland Hervey Bay.

Go along, check them out and be sure to say gidday to Jim.