1983 Year In Review

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Ash Wednesday, Mount Macedon
The aftermath of Ash Wednesday on the township of Mt. Macedon, Victoria.

The Rise, And Rise, Of The People Mover

By 1983 People Movers had become a popular new addition to the automotive vocabulary, coined to describe the luxuriously appointed multi-seater light commercial vans which were rapidly establishing themselves a solid footing in the "passenger car" market. Since their introduction some 4 years earlier, speculation was rife that the government planned to increase duties, tarrifs, sales tax and quota restrictions - but such plans never eventuated - probably because politicians realised the implications of hurting "The Australian Family".

During 1983 there was a general downturn in family car sales, and so for that year at least, the People Mover was the shining light for those manufacturers far sighted enough to have one sitting in their dealer showrooms. Whether imported as light commercial vehicles or not, the People Mover offered versatility, practicality and value for money.

For the family man, the concept was unquestionably right - there was not another vehicle on the market at the time that managed to combine the space, versatility and interior layout so effectively. Although various mini-bus style vans had been available in Australia for many years (such as the Volkswagen Kombi and various Japanese goods vans fitted with seats), it wasn't until the introduction of the Mitsubishi L300 Express that the concept and potential of a true luxury van was fully realised.

The Mitsubishi Express and Starwagon

The first L300 Express vans - complete with twin electric sunroofs, luxury upholstery, multi-purpose seating and quality sound equipment - offered handling levels to match most passenger cars, and in doing so set the passenger car market on fire. Other manufacturers soon realised the success of the Mitsubishi Express, and set about fast-tracking development of their own iterations. Toyota was one of the early entrants, upgrading existing Lite Ace and Hi Ace vans to a higher trim level. Nissan did likewise, but these were hastily converted vehicles that did not manage to put forward a persuasive argument to switch from the Mitsubishi Express.

The Mitsubishi Express morphed into the Starwagon - a name far more representative of the role the vehicle filled. The Starwagon offered full seating for eight, coupled with the luxuries of electric sun roof, AM/FM four speaker multi-plex sound system with separate stereo cassette player and full luxury trim throughout. The Starwagon came with a five speed manual transmission as standard, (an automatic transmission was available as an option), which was mated to a gutsy 1.8 litre four cylinder engine. The Starwagon was fitted with front disc brakes, while the fully reclining seats provided the ability to provide a bed for overnight trips.

And just to make it even more difficult for others to muscle in on Mitsubishi's success, in 1983 they had one more ace up their sleeve. The L300 Express Wagon was a 4WD version, a vehicle that found ready acceptance with those who wanted to take their families off the beaten track. But there was one manufacturer that was up to the challenge, and their development of a purpose built people mover would re-define the genre. The manufacturer was Toyota, and their vehicle the Tarago.

Formula One Championship:

Nelson Piquet (Brazil) / Brabham-BMW

1983 Bathurst Winner:

Peter Brock, Larry Perkins & John Harvey / VH Commodore

NRL Grand Final:

Parramatta (18) def. Manly-Warringah (6)

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Hawthorn (20.20.140) def. Essendon (8.9.57)

Wimbledon Women:

Martina Navratilova d. A. Jaeger (6-0 6-3)

Wimbledon Men:

John McEnroe d. C. Lewis (6-2 6-2 6-2)

Melbourne Cup:

Kiwi (J. Cassidy)

The Movies:

The Big Chill
  • Terms of Endearment
  • Fanny & Alexander
  • The Right Stuff

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - Terms of Endearment
  • Best Actor - Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies)
  • Best Actress - Shirley MacLaine (Terms Of Endearment)

Gold Logie:

Daryl Somers (Hey Hey It's Saturday and Family Feud, Nine)

The Charts:

  1. Australiana - Austen Tayshus
  2. Islands In The Stream - Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
  3. Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker & Jenifer Warnes
  4. Reckless - Australian Crawl
  5. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
  6. Flashdance - Irene Cara
  7. Maggie - Foster & Allen
  8. Come Said The Boy - Mondo Rock
  9. All Night Long - Lionel Richie
  10. Save Your Life - Renee & Renato


  • Dennis Wilson (The Only Beach Boy Who Could Surf)
  • Tennessee Williams (American Playwright)
  • Joan Miró (Spanish Painter and Sculptor)
  • Buckminster Fuller (Futurist and global thinker)
  • Jack Dempsey (Heavyweight Champion of the World)
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