Felix never questioned me about why I always stayed after hours, so long as I locked the doors and turned the lights off when I left. And why should he? I was his friend as well as his employee, and as head mechanic at The Rotary Club, I did good work, so he paid me good money and allowed me to use the shop for my own purposes sometimes. I’d started there about seven years ago. I was out of a job after the US markets crashed in ‘08, and Felix gladly took me in. I worked my way up in the business, and I was happy there. I walked into the shop one day a few months ago and decided to start a new project car, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted yet.
I looked across the garage in search of an idea. There was the odd NSU Prinz or Ro80 on the shop floor, but most of the cars were Mazdas. There was a CX-3 up on a lift having a 13B-Renesis swapped in, a RX-8 in for routine maintenance, and even a 767 under a microfiber cover in the back of the shop. In front of a shelf of boxed-up apex seals was a Eunos Cosmo and a Rotary Pickup. Those sort of builds had become almost hackneyed, though. Sure, there were the Familia and the Luce, but I wanted something unique, something most of the world had never seen before and wouldn’t soon forget. Suddenly, I had my idea.
Finding the old saloon wasn’t the easiest task, but after a few months of scouring Melbourne’s junkyards and police surplus auctions, I had finally found a Roadpacer AP. When I pulled up to the shop with it on Monday, Felix gave me his amused “are you kidding me?” look. Though he was incredibly surprised I had found the rare machine, he couldn’t believe I’d bought such a piece of crap. But when I told him what I was going to do with it, he blanched in fear and retreated to his office until the end of the day. His presence on the shop floor became rare, and he scarcely spoke when he wasn’t talking to clients.
I was finishing up a customer’s mint RX-3 and told Felix it was ready to be picked up. He nodded and said he would be headed home once he finished talking to the man. It was only 3:30 in the afternoon, but I didn’t complain. It just gave me more time to work on the Roadpacer. Funny thing was, Felix didn’t come back until a few weeks ago. I paid bills on time and kept customers updated on their cars. But on weekends, nights, afternoons, and mornings. I worked on the saloon. Before long, I had it completely stripped and ready for some paint. After paint, I reassembled the aluminum body around the new race tube frame, put in the new engine and transmission, and set to work on the suspension.
The car would now sit a fair bit lower, but hopefully, it would retain some of the capability on rougher roads that the Holden Kingswood it was based on had. 255-width front and 335 rear tires were wrapped around custom center-lock steelies, and some Brembos found their way onto the car as well. She was almost ready for her maiden voyage, but first, I wanted to check in on Felix.
I called him up, and the first thing he asked me was whether the car was ready. I said yes, and I heard the roar of his 13J-swapped ‘67 Cosmo outside the garage in less than ten minutes. He walked into the shop and spontaneously burst into tears. He managed to blubber “it’s beautiful!” before he passed out cold. I propped him up on his office couch, slapped him three times, and gave him some water. A few hours later, he had recovered and was ready to accompany me on the test drive. I pushed some buttons, toggled some switches, and the Roadpacer’s quad-turbo R26B shrieked to glorious life.
We pulled out of the garage, the MFP Big-Bopper-esque primary-colored paint job gleaming in the early afternoon sun. Careful not to scrape the sleek chin splitter on the driveway, we pulled out onto the side street and left a good bit of the rear Goodyears all over the Melbourne tarmac. We headed towards Geelong and then up to the small town of Little River.
However, when we came to the end of Old Melbourne Road, I saw a sign: “Highway 9, 57 road fatalities this year, monitored by Main Force Patrol. Next to it were two skeletal beings standing by a rusty, hacked-up, brodozer-ized HSV VF ute. They saw us and gave guttural cries. I revved the R26B to 9000, but they were undeterred. They scuttled into their ute and fired up their LSA. It looked like it would be up to me to lay down the law. I looked over to Felix. He was clearly terrified, but he looked over and gave me a grim smile. I revved the quad-rotor in response and flipped on the blue dome light. It was time to lay down the law.