Wizard of Aus: big-body dreamin’

Posted in Cars, Opinion
It took a while, but René Vermeer has now purchased a vehicle in Sydney. It’s probably not what you were thinking, however

I know, I know, it’s taken me an age to purchase a vehicle here in Sydney, Australia. As it turns out, I am in a completely unique scenario here in Australia, and one that I have never been in my entire life. I’m living out of a suitcase, in an apartment with no garage, and without off-street parking. Do you catch my drift? What this means for a car enthusiast such as myself, is that storing a vehicle, keeping it mint, servicing it, and maintaining it myself are all serious problems now. Not to mention the yawn-worthy traffic here in Sydney, the fact that I might be returning to New Zealand in a year, and that this vehicle would be our only vehicle influencing my choice.

It’s taken me months of searching local Facebook pages, Gumtree.com.au, Carsales.com.au, and many more to decide on which vehicle to purchase. I was dead set on a Toyota Soarer JZZ30 for weeks, I even had the deposit ready after a test drive. I then decided that perhaps a modern diesel hatchback would suit, or a Ford XR6 Turbo, or a ... You get the idea. 

What I did settle on, though, was something I thought I would never buy. It’s a vehicle with bugger-all grunt and curtain airbags. I can’t change the head unit, I can’t up the boost, and I can’t modify it (legally). The Lexus GS300, or the Toyota Aristo as they're more commonly known back home, is a vehicle produced for the luxury market, and one that I fell in love with after a short drive. She’s a 2003 model, with 200,000kms, but is in immaculate condition. 

It has tan leather interior, crazy amounts of airbags, factory polished alloys, factory working Australian navigation, a six-CD stacker, dual climate air conditioning, and a naturally aspirated VVT-i 2JZ engine with 166kW (222hp). All of these things, combined with the factory cruise control, have me yearning for the long open roads, up and down Australia’s East Coast. 

I was sold on this vehicle the moment I drove it. It has the comfort you’d expect from something much more expensive. The 2JZ is backed by a five-speed sportshift automatic transmission, and, the best part, it’s completely silent. The build quality is next-level amazing, and did I mention it has a sunroof? 

However, I am a performance car enthusiast, and, yes, I have googled the insane amount of upgrades available for the JZS160R chassis. It can be turbocharged, slammed, and anything else you can think of. But first, I have to prepare the vehicle for my current situation. 

No garage? No problem! I made my way to Supercheap Auto to collect a plastic 45-litre container to house my spray wax, interior cleaner, tyre shine, and microfibres. Probably the most exciting thing I have done to date in Australia is purchasing my beloved microfibres, as they’re simply a detailer's best friend.

Well, amateur detailer, such as myself. Thanks to the extreme heat here, I made sure to purchase a windscreen sun visor, and I have booked the GS300 in to have its windows tinted to keep the cabin cool. Next on the list of boot fillings is a toolkit. I will be looking at something that is all-purpose, with spanners, sockets, knifes, screwdrivers, and pliers. After that, some duct tape and cable ties couldn’t hurt to have on board until we find a place I can work on it. 

It’s been a huge change leaving home, where everything was in impeccable order, and condition. Detailing my vehicle each night on the driveway is now a distant memory, as, these days, I will be doing the same every time I hit the service station to refuel. I welcome the challenge, though, and will keep you all informed about what it is like to be a car enthusiast here in Sydney. 

Until then! 

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.