PETER Balikoff’s 1971 GT XY is a hot car. All bright green sleek lines and brute speed, it is in mint condition – since Mr Balikoff spent about nine years rebuilding it.
But when Mr Balikoff looks at his GT, it’s not just a car that he sees. More than that, he remembers all the people who helped him out with different parts of the rebuild, and remembers his brothers.
Even though the car is invaluable to him, for the reasons above, Mr Balikoff is joining the throngs of owners who loan their irreplaceable and much loved vehicles to the Gippsland Vehicle Collection (GVC) for its three four-month exhibitions each year.
The GT XY is included in the Marvels of Maffra display in a celebration of all the rare and otherwise special vehicles owned in Maffra and its surrounding district.
Mr Balikoff said his prized car started life as a dilapidated, rusty shell that he imported from South Africa 10 years ago.
“I had a couple of contacts in GT circles who helped me source it from Johannesburg, via Durban,” he said.
“What was happening at the time was prices for Australian-assembled GTs were going through the roof. One friend had already imported a Fairmont GT and it caught my interest, as they are the same vehicles, they were assembled from Complete Knock Down kits at Port Elizabeth.”
The reasons behind Mr Balikoff’s desire for a GT were simple – he and his brothers had worked on a lot of GT XYs and XWs over the years, and he had gathered a decent collection of parts along the way.
“After doing a parts catalogue I realised I would be able to assemble a body if I could get hold of one, and I already had about 60 per cent of the parts in possession,” he said.
“In the end, I spent nine years doing a complete rebuild. Like a lot of projects it starts off in one direction, then moves in another. And there were a lot of times when frustration set in and I would have to move onto something different for a while to get a clear head on it.
“It ended up so far removed from where it started – there were so many parts missing from the original that a lot of modifications were done to bring it up to HO specs.”
But it was all worth it.
“You just get catapulted back to younger days. I’ve lost two of my brothers now but we used to sit and watch Bathurst together and go to motoring events and these cars were being raced at the time.
“Seeing them raced live created a love affair that’s lasted a lifetime – they really were a brute of a car compared to other vehicles of the time.”
And when he looks at the green GT XY that he spent nine years rebuilding?
“I always remember those that gave me a hand with the difficult bits and the heavy lifting side of things. When I look at the car, it reminds me of all those friends and people close to me. And it reminds me of my brothers.”
Marvels of Maffra is on at the GVC. Entry to the grounds is by gold coin donation, and entry to the GVC and Model World Maffra is at a discounted rate for the day of $10. Children 15 and under are free. Everyone is invited to bring their own vehicles along to display in the grounds. Marvels of Maffra will be on display until the end of June 2020.
For more information, visit www.gippslandvehiclecollection.org.au or find us at
facebook.com/gippslandvehiclecollection. The Gippsland Vehicle Collection is located at 1A Sale-Maffra Rd, Maffra.