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My collection of classics

"I like to say I sell pre-loved cars not second-hand cars. Unfortunately I love too many of them," the 44-year-old Southport dealer principal says. "That's the problem with being a dealer principal; you are in the shop with all these lollies coming in through the front door. You say, 'will I buy it to keep it or sell it?'. What do you do? It's hard when you love cars. You end up with a collection."

Dean's collection is mainly made up of cars that have come down from the bedroom walls of his youth into his garage. They include: a 1966 Austin Healey Sprite, a "black, lowered and lovely" 1970 Fiat 124 BC Sport, a 1982 Lancia Beta Coupe which "not surprisingly has rust in all the wrong places", a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III, a 1970 Honda Civic that's only done 20,000km, a 1972 one-owner VW millionth edition Beetle, a 1968 Meyers Manx beach buggy, a 1990s Nissan S-cargo mini van "my wife calls Daisy", a 1988 Corolla hillclimber and a rare 1988 Lancia Delta Integrale HF 4WD eight-valve.

"I just bought another Integrale from Japan which is basically rust free," he says. "But I'll have to give up some of my other toys like the Beta, Veedub and the Civic."

He plans to strip back the second Integrale and make it into a replica white Martini rally car like the ones driven to six World Rally Championships in the 1980s and '90s by drivers such as Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biasion. It's got the 16-valve, two-litre turbo engine but even though it has a smaller turbo than my eight-valve, it doesn't have as much lag. "You can get about 700 horsepower (522kW) out of them which I imagine could be quite scary."

He plans to drive the Lancias in historic sprint meetings such as the Tweed on Speed, Leyburn Sprints and recent Cootha Classic. Meanwhile, he seriously campaigns his Corolla in the Queensland hillclimb championships which he won a few weeks ago.

"I got into it about three years ago through a friend of mine with a little Alfa who kept hounding me and hounding me," he says. "I kept putting it off because you have to be committed, but I did it one day at Mt Cotton and I was hooked. They're a great bunch of blokes. It's not exactly a blood sport."

His Corolla has a 4AGE blacktop 20-valve Toyota four-cylinder naturally aspirated improved classified category race engine developing 89kW at the wheels.

"But it has a lot more torque which is great for hillclimbs," he says. He bought it for $1500 and has turned it into a $28,000 project racer. This is just a car that was supposed to hold me over until I got into the Evo monster," he says. "But you just can't jump in and hit the track with something that has 350kW at the wheels. It's a bit dangerous. I bought the Corolla to step up to the Evo, but I've fallen in love with it and the Evo is still sitting there. And in the interim I've come across the Integrale and now I'm getting another one. It's a sickness."

He bought the 134kW Delta from Western Australia for $15,000 after "hunting one down" over several years. "It's got coil-over springs, it's been chipped, I've replaced the manifold and exhaust, and it's had tender loving care...  and about $5000 spent on it. I only use it for special exhibition events, not serious competition. I worry a little bit. I don't want to put it into a wall."

Mark Hinchliffe
Contributing Journalist
Mark Hinchliffe is a former CarsGuide contributor and News Limited journalist, where he used his automotive expertise to specialise in motorcycle news and reviews.
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