Paul Davies, Warehouse Manager Whites Diesels

“It’s true… I bought my beloved 1975 Mazda 808 Coupe when it had only ever been driven by a little old lady, to and from Church!”

The original name for the Mazda 808, produced in Japan from 1971 to 1978, was the Mazda Grand Familia. The model offered only inline four cylinder engines and sold well against the background of the 1970s energy crisis due to its excellent fuel economy. “I’ve always had 808s”, says Paul Davies. “The first one I owned, I kept for 23 years! And I’ve now owned and cared for my current car for 17 years. It’s very special. For starters, the previous buyer – a dealer who bought it from that little old lady – became then and remains today, my best mate. That car brought us together and we’ve been friends ever since!”

But let’s take a step back. Paul Davies is one of Whites Diesels’ valued staff members. He runs the Brisbane warehouse, which services all Whites’ branches across Australia. As Paul puts it: “I take care of all the Ins and Outs… from the smallest electrical switches to whole engines. “I can ship anything to anywhere, whether overnight or by road freight, depending on the urgency. No two days are the same and it’s that variety that makes me love my job. Anything and everything can happen on a daily basis. Only recently I had to ship a whole truck rear end to W.A.” So Paul obviously fits the Whites Diesels requirement of being passionate about the motor industry. He’s been with the company for 11 years now.

“Though I was born in Victoria, I’ve now lived in Brisbane for 43 years… so I guess that entitles me to be a bona fide Maroons supporter. I love it here and this is the perfect job for me”, says Paul. “And just quietly, Darryl is the nicest guy to work for too.” As you can see, Paul is a passionate kind of guy. He loves Brisbane, his job, his footy team… but especially his 1975 ‘Flair Yellow’ Mazda 808 Coupe. “Yes… both my wife and myself love our cars, though she prefers her ’69 VW Beetle (called ‘Rosie’), to my Mazdas.” When Paul bought his Coupe back in 1999 it had a genuine 96,000km on the clock. “The little old lady who owned it, traded it in on a new Hyundai! (Amazing.)” In the 17 years he’s had it since, Paul’s only added 10,000km to that total. “It still runs like it’s brand new”, says Paul. “I really only drive it on our monthly Club Runs to various Motor Shows.” The Club of which Paul is an active member is for fellow fanatics who own (mainly) Japanese model cars manufactured from the 1960s to the ‘80s. The Club puts on two Motor Shows of its own each year (in February and June) that have become among the biggest in Australia, each attracting some 800 Japanese-made cars.

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Back in ’99, Paul spotted the 808 Coupe in the front yard of Jon Barr – another Mazda Restorer. “Jon didn’t have to do much of a sales job”, says Paul. “I’ve actually been a car judge at Motor Shows for 27 years, so I know when a car’s in good condition… and this was a beauty. I made an offer on the spot.” The Coupe had just one thumbnail-sized spot of rust and Paul quickly stripped it back and re-painted it in its original ‘Flair Yellow’ colour. “I also replicated the original exhaust in stainless steel and did up the interior a little – it now looks just like it did in ’75 when it first left the showroom floor”, Paul says with real pride. “I’ve fielded several offers to sell it, but the prospective buyers all wanted to switch out its original piston engine and replace it with a rotary… and there was no way I was going to let that happen!”

All of Paul’s loving care has paid off. His 808 has won ‘People’s Choice’ awards at car shows and was even the star of a feature in Classic Car Magazine back in 2009. “These achievements have ticked a few boxes for me, but I’d still like it to appear in TV shows… and that too is on the cards.” In the meantime, Paul has fun driving what he calls a “… clean, honest car. It drives so smoothly – no rattles or rolls and no wind noise – what can I say? I love it.” Indeed.

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