ADAM Shears is a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. Wise beyond his 44 years and the last of a slowly dying breed of Aussie larrikin, he loves a beer and a yarn and is of the ilk that thinks ‘social media’ is a group of friendly reporters.
A staunch GM fan, he has long bled Holden-engine Rocket Red, though his earlier years tell a different tale. Cutting his teeth around the backroads of Bathurst, Adam now calls sunny Townsville home, where he continues his love of all things mechanical and ardent passion for anything old-school.
1. The young Adam wasn’t too keen on school. “I struggled to read and write, like a lot of 14-year-old country kids, but to me, the Street Machine story on Rex Webster’s FJ spoke volumes,” he says. “It’s my all-time favourite. Rex was broke, run-down but hugely talented, and taught a generation of car-heads what could be achieved if you were willing to put your mind to it. It was a groundbreaking car I guess – and still is – plus FJs give me a stiffy.”
2. This Rally Pack Escort RS2000 was Adam’s first ‘fast’ car and was pretty much a race car with number plates. “I brought it cheap with one side caved in. I had it fixed and drove it like a lunatic; it had more suspension under it than a hooker’s bed,” he laughs. Twin sway-bars front and rear, quick-rack steering, twin Webers and a huge cam got it moving, while fat little 235/13s stuffed under works-style flares, a six-point ’cage, race seats, harnesses and spotties locked down its rally heritage. Those with a keen eye will spot the Oakley-sledging ‘Ugley Factory Idiot’ windscreen sticker that was all the rage back in the early 90s. “It was a crazy little car; maybe the best car I have owned,” Adam says. “I sold it to buy a caravan to inhabit while grinding out an apprenticeship.”
3. With the RS2000 sold to fund the aforementioned 18-foot Millard caravan, the little change he had left over bought Adam a Gemini to use as a runaround. “Apprenticeships were hard to find back then, and it was none of this ‘one tradesman for six apprentices’ like it is now,” he says. “I moved to Sydney from Bathurst to secure a start as a diesel fitter and bunked onsite in my van. I was flat broke, and you haven’t done an apprenticeship until you’ve lived off sliced ham and noodles. The Gemini was a serious backward step after the Escort, but it got me by and looked okay with its six-holer jellybeans and dodgy respray – note the colour-coded number plates!”
4. Adam's Escorts, Geminis and Datsuns all had one thing in common: they all got hammered on the dirt. “I started driving while living around the Bathurst/Lithgow area, so we pressed four-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive cars into action,” he says. “I owned three Datsun 1600s in a row that used the same rollcage, seats and twin Webers, and beat on them like they owed me money. This is me standing on the roof of my last Datto that I stacked on the afternoon of my 21st party at Capertee, NSW. I misread a corner at 60mph and sent four of us upside down on the roof through the scrub. I swapped the rolled wreck for a 186-powered Holden one-tonner and spent the next afternoon – with a massive hangover – fitting a new clutch to it so I could drive it back to Sydney in time for work Monday morning. Later that week I sold the Holden to a brickie in Liverpool and bought my first V8: a 4V Clevo XD ute.”
5. Adam's softie Land Cruiser came with a dodgy Leyland P76 4.4-litre engine conversion and little else in the way of creature comforts – no roof, bugger-all exhaust and solid-steel engine mounts. “With the front hubs unlocked and in low four it would pull wheelies,” he recalls. “Man, I used to freeze my little ginger rocks off driving this friggin’ thing in the middle of winter; I’d be wearing ski gloves and a balaclava. My mate had a knackered Gemini that sat outside our house for months. One morning around 2am, coming home with a low sugar level, $79 worth of junk food and a full throttle, we lined up that poor Gemma and bullbar-punched it into next week! Never grow up, never act your age!” The Cruiser saw out its days impounded by the Parramatta police.
6. One of Adam’s favourite show-and-go cars is his good mate Lee’s TD Cortina. “Back in the day it ran a tough 250 crossflow, single-rail four-speed and peg-legger diff, along with a set of hotwires with bald retreads,” Adam says. “These days the Cort is running a tough 302 Windsor backed by a shift-kitted C4 and spooled nine-inch, rolling on Weld wheels. Lee has been a street car guy forever and is a great spray painter too.”
7. Adam bought this VH Commodore wagon in the year 2000, just as Sydney was getting wound up into an Olympics frenzy. “It was a great time to escape the big smoke, so on the weekends we’d load this old girl up and head to the Central Coast to go scuba-diving and mountain-biking. It was a thong-slapper 253 backed by an M21 four-speed. I put a VK front end on it – seriously, who does that shit nowadays? – along with a set of 5.0 badges. It was stolen soon after, and I hope the scumbags that took it were pissed to find it was only a 253 VH and not a 308 VK! Sucked in! I have very fond memories of cruising the freeways in this old girl. I miss this car every summer, and one day I’ll buy a set of Wayfarer sunnies and another VH V8 wagon.”
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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