Photos by Bruce Rayne
Editorial note: this is a reproduction of a 2012 club article about club member Mark Peebles. Sadly, Mark passed away very soon after this article was written, and never got to see the published result. The Regals Mopar Car Club is a strong supporter of depression and anxiety awareness, so we are reproducing this article to help highlight the issue. Our annual club event, Mopars Down South raises funds for Beyond Blue, a charity dedicated to this problem. Visit Beyond Blue for more info, or if you need some help.
The original article hasn’t been edited, and still refers to Mark in the present tense.
I recall the first time I saw Mark Peebles’ VF 770 Hardtop parked out the front of MotorEx. It was in 2009, and I was with my brother Andrew, along with Simon Griffiths. We spent quite a while looking over the car. The first thing that stood out was the odd colour combination and those ultra cool red rims with white wall tyres. A closer inspection revealed a mint buffalo grain interior, along with subtle additions around the body, like the mirrors, sun visor and spats. But where was the front bumper?
We concluded that due to the detail of finish around the front apron, the bumper wasn’t off for repairs; it was left off on purpose. I wasn’t quite sure about it then, but over time the more I saw the car, the more it grew on me, and now I couldn’t imagine it with a front bumper at all! Having said that, I did get Gordon to Photoshop one on to satisfy my curiosity! The next time we saw the car was in November 2009 at the first Mopar Rumble, and shortly after that, Mark joined the Regals. Currently residing in Neutral Bay, but originally hailing from Melbourne, Mark moved to Sydney for business, but still spends his time between the two cities depending on work, family and other commitments. Being a chap that loves his wheels, Mark currently has two Valiants, a motorcycle and a SAAB convertible (rego 318-770 so it doesn’t feel left out!) as well as use of his Shanghai-residing brother’s “modified for the race track” 1994 Nissan Skyline GTR R32 when in Melbourne.
Now most people would be wondering where you keep two Vals, a bike and daily driver in Neutral Bay, and in a unit block to boot. Well Mark has it all sorted out. He rents extra space from tenants who don’t use their garage. That way he can have the best of both worlds: inner city living with Harbour views, and lock up security for his toys. Smaller maintenance jobs on his cars are tolerated within the unit complex, and larger (noisier) jobs can be done at his mates’ places. Both cars have been spotted once or twice in the Mede brothers’ driveway!
It would be fair to say that Mark has had a colourful history with Valiants and other various automobiles in general. He bought his first Valiant in 1982, which was a VF Hardtop in undercoat. After cruising in his friend’s VG sedan, which had its roof chopped off to make a Summer/Party car, Mark and his mate did the same with the VF. They drove it around Melbourne for two and a half years without a roof, before the coppers put an end to it. Clearly not done with convertibles, his next car was another VF coupe, this time a V8 770. At the time it was being used as a chicken coup on a farm some 6 hours drive from Melbourne. The car was then built into a tough, lowered convertible complete with a VIP front and interior, a Mercedes Benz cloth steel folding frame soft top and finished in Ford charcoal with 11 coats of colour, 10 coats of clear. He sold it 3 times and bought it back twice. All up, Mark has made 5 convertibles, and owned 14 Valiants.
A little while back Mark worked for Maranello Motorsport in Melbourne, who buy, sell and race predominantly Ferraris—a job that came with all the perks. He’s had the privilege of driving more than 30 Ferraris including F40s, F50s, Enzo, 430s, 430s, 458s plus some nice older models. He’s driven a McLaren F1 road car and a McLaren F1 GTR road car (each valued at between $2m and $3m). Mark has also been a collector of vintage Italian small capacity motorcycles. He’s owned 7 MV Agustas (the Ferrari of motorcycles), 4 Ducatis and 1 Benelli. At one stage he even kept 4 motorbikes in the lounge room of a 1 bedroom apartment! These days, the collection has been sold on, with only his original 1985 Suzuki GSXR 750 First Edition remaining, which Mark credits as the first Japanese race bike replica for the road and the bike credited with starting the whole ‘hyper’ bike movement.
Anyway, back to the Mopars and as mentioned, Mark has two Vals in the stable. One is the Green 1969 VF 770 Regal Hardtop, and the other is a White 1968 VE Wayfarer Ute. Both cars have that old school custom theme going on, with the VE having a little more patina to the finish then the immaculately presented hardtop.
The VF was purchased in 1989 after it had sat in a workshop for 5 years. The car was in pretty good condition, and Mark drove it around for 6 years before pulling it off the road for some minor rear wheel arch rust repair work and that’s when the trouble began. Long story short, after 12 years, 2 VCAT tribunal hearings for faulty workmanship and 5 panel beaters (the first two agreed to bare metal repairs but used bog, the third guy went bankrupt resulting in the car being locked up by the administrators for 6 months, the fourth guy had a heart attack requiring a quadruple bypass so retired on the spot) the car was back on the road in early 2009. We now fast forward to 2012 when the final body work was completed. As to be expected with a vinyl roof car, Mark eventually found rust in the turret. Remarkably, he managed to find a NOS roof skin for sale in Northern NSW and had it freighted down to Melbourne where his preferred panel beater resides. The guys did a great job with the repair, and even reused the original headliner at Mark’s request. It’s good to see that Mark has finally learnt to put the roof back on the car when he takes it off!
The VE was purchased in 1998 and was originally a factory slant 6, column auto car. Mark found it in the ‘wrecking’ section of the Trading Post. It had been parked under a tree and was filthy. Once the car was in Mark’s hands, he registered it with a dodgy RWC and drove it for two years until the motor eventually died. A donor VE VIP Safari was purchased and the 273/904/LSD driveline was transferred along with the power steering assembly. The car was already fitted with disc brakes.
Mark says that he likes survivor hot rods and barn fresh old school customs, and whether your preference is stock standard vehicles or highly modified rides, I’m sure you’ll agree that Mark has two tastefully styled cruisers that will continue to turn heads wherever they go.