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Drive Life : June 4th 2010
1HERSA1 0008 TOM KERR SUBARU TOM KERR SUBARU 883 Victoria Road West Ryde 1300 036 242 www.tomkerr.com.au *Offer ends 5pm 6 June 2010. Pictures for illustrative purposes. DL 1142 BB9161 > Brand New MY10 > 195kw Boxer Engine > 0-100 kph in 5.3 seconds > 17" Alloys > Sports Seats > Full Body Kit > 6 Airbags > All Wheel Drive > ABS/VDC/EBD > Limited Supply > Most Successful Sports Car of the Decade IMPREZA WRX SEDAN or HATCH DRIVEAWAY $39,990 SAVE $4,000 8 Drive Life June 4, 2010 drive.com.au COVER STORY TONY DAVIS Ugly shtick Some cars are the stuff of dreams. Unfortunately, there are others that could only have come from a nightmare. 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,'' as 19th-century novelist Margaret Hungerford wrote in Molly Bawn. On that basis, there are certain cars that we would never really want to behold. But for every vehicle that is uneasy on the eye, there is almost always someone who can look beneath the skin. Take British car customiser Andy Saunders, for example. Saunders saw a photograph of a wreck from the 1950s and was transfixed by it. It was a tiny photo showing what was left of a car called the Aurora. Never mind that the Aurora (pictured, with Saunders) had been nominated as the most hideous thing on wheels, Saunders just knew he had to have it. Here's the bizarre story of the Aurora and, on the next page, a few nominations for other vehicles that are waiting to be preserved by enthusiasts of cars that are, well, a little bit different. Alfred A. Juliano was a Catholic priest who dreamed of being a car stylist. Unfortunately he received his chance and built the Aurora. Father Alfred was very concerned with safety, hence a foam-filled pedestrian-friendly shelf on the front, seatbelts for every occupant, an inbuilt roll cage and other devices to stop the passengers meeting their maker (and his employer). Father Alfred was also concerned with producing styling that was, er, idiosyncratic. High-volume production was planned, it seems, but potential buyers totalled none. It isn't clear whether they were scared off by the uber-rococo bodywork or the $12,000 price tag (a whisker less than the dearest Cadillac of the same year, 1957). The Aurora sent its priestly designer bankrupt and its financing (which may have involved the poor box) led to his defrocking. The car itself has at various times been nominated as the ugliest made. Otherwise, it was a terrific success. ''I've always wanted to own a car from the Dream Car period,'' Saunders told us. He bought the car in the 1990s without first seeing it in the metal- and-fibreglass. The photo was enough, particularly when he realised that the vehicle was a one-off prototype and the only Aurora in existence. What turned up at his doorstep, however, was a basket case. The restoration took 16 years and consumed so much money that Saunders won't reveal the full extent to anyone, confiding that ''the only thing I've spent more on was my house''. So is it the ugliest car in history? ''Not really, no,'' he says. ''It's pretty well up there but I don't know that it is the ugliest.'' Saunders, who designs and customises cars himself, says the Aurora's rear-end is ''just gorgeous''. ''The front-end is, um, unusual and quite funky. And then the side view is just appalling. ''You know how in school when you draw the head of a person and fold it over and let someone else draw the body and fold it over again and let someone draw the legs? ''Well, it looks like that, like three or four people had a go.'' Saunders says there is something about ''unusual'' cars that appeals to him. ''I've just put a Panhard PL17 on the road . . . what a bloody ugly thing. The front looks like a frog that is waiting for a kiss and the back looks like Darth Vader's helmet.'' The Aurora's creator Father Alfred was torn between his faith and his automotive ambitions. Saunders says that the priest's talent was such that he was accepted into a car design school run by legendary stylist Harley Earl. The offer came about two weeks too late; Juliano had just entered the priesthood. ''It's a shame really, because he could have been the next big famous car designer of that period,'' Saunders says. Really? ''Yes. If you look at the range of Ford or General Motors products in 1957, the Aurora wasn't five years ahead -- it was 20 years ahead in its style. A '57 Cadillac had these great big dagmars sticking out the front and it had chrome dripping off it everywhere and this came along and there are no bumpers and no chrome and no trim. ''I think it would have just scared the public. If you look at it now, it doesn't necessarily seem to be from the 1950s. You can't quite tell when it was designed.'' That's one way of looking at it.
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