MEN have long been known to form close relationships with their cars, sometimes to the detriment of their marriages.
And such might have been the case with Steve and the former Mrs Rance.
The affable Queenslander bought and built a Sabre kit car back in the late 1980s, and devoted so much attention to the sleek coupe with its Ferrari-like lines, that jealousy, and perhaps one or two other minor items, resulted in the marriage falling apart after just a few years.
To his chagrin, Steve lost the Sabre in the divorce settlement, and his once-lovely car ended up being parked under a tree in his ex-wife’s back yard.
It spent some years there before Steve, who then ran a smash repair shop, and built special cars for the film industry, was able to get it back.
But having been subjected to the elements, and possibly the occasional missile from an angry woman, it needed a total rebuild.
Steve had by then become well-known for creating Batmobiles for Warner Bros studios. He’d built quite a few in the past 18 years.
He got the fibreglass body sorted and was lucky to acquire the mechanicals of a crashed Toyota Camry Ultima, which he squeezed into the confines of the Sabre’s tubular spaceframe, the engine neatly slotted in behind the driver.
It took him 18 months to complete the spectacular and immaculate yellow coupe, but at a cost of just $6000.
Today, it’s worth close on $100,000.
“It must be one of the world’s most unusual Camry-powered cars,” Steve said.
“Engine and gearbox are standard, the headlights are from a Mazda RX-8, the front bumper from a Charade and the 18-inch wheels from an Audi.
“It drives like a dream. Does zero to 100 in 6.7 seconds and I’ve had it up to 210km/h on the runway at the Southport Flying Club.”
That’s where he now lives, working as the aerodrome manager.
He retained the Sabre name because the original was road registered as such, and was a respected bit of engineering.
“My (new) wife Sue and I use it as a weekend driver,” he said.
“And, yes, Sue doesn’t mind at all. She loves it.”