When we heard there was some unique metal rolling around this year’s Cooly Rocks On festival, we set out on a mission to spot Bryan and Tracey Little’s split-window Kombi and Ford Sunliner convertible amongst the thousands of assembled cars. We found them parked side by side, which was where we caught up with the married couple to talk about their love of classic cars.
First published in the August 2023 issue of Street Machine
You’ve both got some rare rides! Tell us about them.
BL: I’ve got a 1960 Ford Galaxie Sunliner convertible. There are only six in Australia, and three are in Queensland. It’s got a 351 Cleveland in it with a C4 automatic. The engine, transmission, brakes and suspension have all been rebuilt during my ownership.
TL: I drive a 1965 split-window Kombi called Charlie. She’s a genuine Westfalia. The uniqueness of this one is that she’s got what they call a turret-top – a little pop-top. The story of Charlie is that an American bought her in Germany and travelled through Europe with her in the 60s. He then got a job in the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme and brought her over. That’s when she was converted to right-hand drive.
What’s the history of your Sunliner, Bryan?
BL: They made 44,762. This one was brought into Australia brand new by somebody who worked in the US Embassy in Canberra; that’s why it’s right-hand drive. I bought it about seven years ago.
How did you both get into the car scene?
BL: I’ve always had a fascination with cars, especially big cars with dual headlights. My father worked for Rolls-Royce for a while in the UK. He was a very good toolmaker and made bikes that did motor racing in New Zealand, where I was born.
TL: We both have such an appreciation for classic cars and how they’re made. As a young child, my grandfather was an old-school diesel mechanic. I loved to sit and watch as he worked on different machines.
When did you two meet?
TL: We had our first date 12 years ago at the local golf club. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise I’d organised our date on the same day the V8s were on. I was watching the TV and Bryan thought, “What’s going on? She’s kind of looking behind me all the time and not really making any conversation.” Then he realised what I was doing and we discovered we were both Ford fans.
And you’ve been cruising together ever since?
BL: We love going to shows together and sharing the history of the cars. We’re in the Gold Coast Muscle Car Association and are very grateful they let us display our cars as a couple.
TL: We’ve been going to Cooly together now for 12 years. Bryan first introduced me to the Wintersun Festival [forerunner to Cooly Rocks On]; he’s been going for 25 years.
I’m sure your cars turn a few heads parked next to each other.
BL: You just don’t see cars like mine or Tracey’s at shows. The Sunliner is such a unique car; it was only one year they came out with that body shape. And you never see the pop-top Kombis in Australia.
TL: We get so many kids looking at the cars and grandparents that will stop and tell old stories. We love the classic cars and rockabilly scene and the people that we get to catch up with.
It sounds like they’ve taken you on some adventures.
TL: I’m a marriage celebrant and have used Charlie in the background at a few elopements. She’s so cute and romantic, and the green is very in vogue.
BL: We also did the Gold Coast V8 drivers’ parade in Monty [the Sunliner] in 2018 with Fabian Coulthard and Tony D’Alberto, and again in 2022 with Will Davison.
TL: We love these cars and will be holding on to them as long as we can.