Suzuki Days 1977

1977 to 1988 was our time with Suzukis. They took us everywhere

Tracks Magazine

Suzuki Tales

We were living in Surfers Paradise and one day my old Fairlane broke down for the umpteenth time just opposite a caryard. And there was this little Suzuki on a ramp looking at me. Cost me $2000 in 1977.

Amongst jobs I did around Surfers, I used the Suzuki to tow a 17 x 7 tandem trailer around collecting waste paper which I would then take across the border into New South Wales to sell. My first ‘off road’ experience was on Main Beach. Beach access wasn’t a problem and I recall I drove on to the soft sand without letting the tyres down. I made it for about 100 metres on the beach an bogged the little car.

I fell ill on the Gold Coast with serious asthma and we decided to move back to Darwin and a warmer climate. So I sold my motorbike and we got rid of some household goods, packed the trailer to the hilt and set off for Darwin. In those days we had a Dobermann dog as a pet and also a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. I did not know how to transport the Cocky so I made a place in the back of the covered trailer, fitted the cage and secured it and drilled some holes in the tailgate so that the bird could get some air. We set off at night, as I wanted to get out of the busy areas when the traffic was quiet and also not to draw too much attention to the fact that I was towing a 5 metre trailer with a 539cc powered car

At Coomera I took it over the weighbridge and the trailer gave a reading of 1.7ton. By sun-up we were well through Brisbane over the Story Bridge and beyond. Stopped for brekkie in a lay-by along the way and I checked on Snowy the Cockatoo. The little bugger had got bored and had chewed everything in sight as far as his neck could reach through the cage. Luckily only some kitchen utensils bore the brunt of his boredom. We then elected to put him in the back of the Suzuki with the dog.

Somewhere between Nambour and Cooroy I saw a sign stating Rainbow Beach and thought that this would be a good opportunity to get down to this famous beach and not taking too much notice of the topography, proceeded down that road. Very soon the road started to climb up a hill and I had to resort to Low Range 1st gear to haul the trailer up the hill. It was a bit of a heart stopping journey and we looked at each other in dismay wondering if we would ever make it to the top of this hill. But we did. And there at the top was a small township. I went to enquire about the road ahead and a local told me that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go that way Noosa. So I went to the local mechanic and asked if I could hire his Tow-truck to take the trailer down the hill again. He was rather unkind with a sneering remark that seeing as I got myself in this jam I could bloody-well get myself out of it. There is something about Queenslanders………….

Down the hill we went in Low Range 1st gear, hand braking it from time to time and touching the brakes every now and then for short burst so as not to overheat them. The trailer brakes seemed to have no effect and the trailer kept on pushing. Eventually I had smoke coming from somewhere and decided to freewheel for the rest of the way. By the time we made it to the slight dip at the bottom of the hill the speedometer was showing 120kmh! The fastest that little Suzuki ever went. Luckily there was a slight uphill before the T-junction at the highway and this slowed the rig down so that gear changes and brakes could be applied. It took us quite a few minutes to recover our breath. We found a place to camp close to a country store nearby and settled down for a good sleep.

The next day, after leaving the trailer at our camp spot, we drove to Tewantin and then along a sandy track to eventually access Rainbow Beach. We left ‘Snowy’ the Cockatoo in the trailer for the day and made sure that there would be nothing within his reach.

Rainbow Beach was a delight to drive as we sped along the hard sands marvelling at the various sand colours along the dune cliffs.

I had decided that the Suzuki would not be able to tow the big trailer over the Great Dividing Range and opted to go as far north as we could so that we could use a road which was an easier climb over the ranges. So we did just that, following the coast road as far as Ayr and then a little further north we took a back road to Woodstock and climbed the easy gradient in third gear. Then it was a long drive west to Three Ways and then north to Darwin.

On the way to the north I lost concentration when turning into a Parking Area. My speed was too high to turn safely and the weight of the trailer pushed the little car even further to the side into a slide to the point where we ended up with the nose virtually on the bitumen with only two wheels touching the surface and the trailer’s frame pointing up in the air. I recovered my composure, engaged four wheel drive and inched forward to straighten the rig up. The A frame of the trailer was bent and we had to spend a couple of hours using a couple of jacks to get rid of the bend in the frame.

Settled in Darwin a short while later I removed the top off the trailer and used it for moving rubble from a number of houses under reconstruction in the reconstruction of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy.
It was at the end of 1977 when we joined the Suzuki Club. I needed a hobby and joined this band of Suzuki enthusiasts. I was soon to find out that I was far behind the eight-ball as far as add-ons go for the enhancement of the past-time.

We did a lot of trips. Our first camping trip was hilarious as we had nothing substantial in the way of camping gear.

Various club competitions were held and I took part in all of them having a modicum of success and beating the club champion on more than one occasion.

Posted in 4x4 Travel Stories.