Central West Car Club | Mitsubishi Magna holds special place in Ace's heart

SENTIMENTAL: Ace Matthews bought this Mitsubishi Magna in 1988 and it was his very first new car. Photo: Jeff McClurg
SENTIMENTAL: Ace Matthews bought this Mitsubishi Magna in 1988 and it was his very first new car. Photo: Jeff McClurg

While never the most striking car in motoring history, the Mitsubishi Magna has stood the test of time and since its launch in 1985, it lasted three generations until 2005.

Ace Matthews from the Central West Car Club owns this survivor from the 80s and I recently chatted to him to find out why.

"This was my very first ever new car," Ace said.

"I'd previously had motorbikes as my daily transport, then had a second-hand Galant and an XE Falcon before buying the Magna brand new from Christie Mitsubishi in Wellington in '88."

Ace's car is a 1988 Mitsubishi Magna TN Elante with a fuel injected 2.6 litre 4 cylinder engine transversely mounted and driving the front wheels through a five speed manual transmission.

"I felt like a rat with a gold tooth," Ace laughed.

"It was this sporty modern new shape in mid sized cars and the Elante came with sports suspension, front and rear spoilers and side skirts, and 15 inch alloy wheels."

RELIABLE: It was a little squeezy when the Matthews family grew, but all of Ace's kids learnt to drive in it and he even lent it to his nephews from the US for an Aussie road trip. Photo: Jeff McClurg

RELIABLE: It was a little squeezy when the Matthews family grew, but all of Ace's kids learnt to drive in it and he even lent it to his nephews from the US for an Aussie road trip. Photo: Jeff McClurg

This first generation Magna came off the assembly line at Tonsley Park in South Australia, home of Chrysler Australia.

Owned by Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi, the Magna was engineered for the Australian conditions and market.

It followed on from the Chrysler and Mitsubishi Sigma with the aim of achieving a wider bodied car for passenger space, hence the name Magna from the Latin word magnus, meaning large.

"I'll be the first to admit that things got a bit squeezy when we started a family," Ace said.

"With three kids in car seats I became very good at packing.

"All the kids learnt to drive in it and it goes great so I've always just kept it.

"My young nephews came out from the US some years back and needed a car so they took it on a three to four month road trip along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and as far north as Cairns.

"It came home with a surfboard strapped to the roof and it never missed a beat," he laughed.

Ace and his wife Pauline own and operate the International and Bushmans motels in Parkes and his Magna is often parked back and forth between the two with a boot full of tools doing maintenance on the rooms.

"I always get some sort of comments on it, mainly because you don't see many of them about any more," Ace said.

"Nobody's offered to buy it but I don't think I'd ever part with it anyway - it means a lot more to me than anybody else."

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