Mark Hanegraaf

G’day from ‘The Land Down Under’. I honestly do not know when my love of the 77 am began. For as long as I can recall, I have wanted one. Not just any one, but the 1977 S/E. I had the toy car, slot car, posters, pictures… You name it, I had it. Funnily enough, it was only later in life I saw the Smokey And The Bandit movies, so I don’t think this really had much to do with it. Considering it came out before I was even born, I think it is fair to say nothing at all!

  For my 18th birthday I was given a ride in Ken de Vries 77 am. I was officially SOLD. That day I started saving and researching. Ken informed me the chances of finding a true 77 S/E were slim to none, and if I did, the owner probably would not even sell. But, I was never one for giving up. I went to Uni, started my own business, bought and sold cars, but never stopped looking for my am. I went to every car show, purchased every local car magazine and talked to whomever would listen. I found 78-81 S/E’s and 77 non S/E’s, but the feel was never quite right. I even managed to get married to an American girl!

  As luck had it, early this year (‘05) a S/E popped up in Colorado, the home town of my Brother in law. I nagged him to go and check it out for me and verify it’s authenticity. It proved to be the real deal so we purchased it. I thought that that would be the hard part over. Unfortunately, it went pear shape from there. Parts were stolen, damage done and for a period the car was MIA. Just when I gave up on it ever arriving, I got the call to pick it up from the docks.

  My first drive was amazing, for the age of this car, it really does handle and drive well. I own 2 other performance cars, a Nissan Silvia (Japanese drift car) and Ford XR8 (Australian muscle car). These are great rides in their own right, but do not compare for overall presence and fun with the am. This says something about the engineering of the am, as the Ford is less than 12mths old.

  Now the am has pride of place in my garage. Whilst it runs well and is a big head turner, it is far from finished. I intend to fully restore it to the last bolt, making it look and drive as it did the day it came off the production line. As other members probably know, getting the car is an amazing rush, but when that clears, the excitement of restoration begins, and I don’t think it ever feels 100% finished.

  As for the car, it is the 403, T-Tops, automatic transmission. Everything that it came off the floor with is still there and working (with the exception of the A/C). I even have the Talkin’ Smokey 8 track! It came with all the documents and paperwork, so the hard work was all done in collecting the authentic parts etc by the last owner. As you probably guessed, the am is not driven much, it’s sole purpose in life now is to make me smile every morning before work, and occasionally, to widen that smile with a cruise along the highway. I still get a tingle in the spine every time she comes to life, and will remain to do so until I die, then, who knows, maybe someone else will appreciate her as much as me.

  The pics attached show the am, ford,
“Conan” (Bulldog/guard dog to be) and myself.

Thanks for reading my bio, I hope you too get to share the passion.


My Photo Gallery